On Tuesday, three students were reportedly injured when a teacher, who also works as a reserve police officer, accidentally fired his gun during a lesson discussing gun safety. Dennis Alexander was going to demonstrate how students could disarm an armed attacker and pointed the firearm toward the ceiling to see if the weapon was loaded.
Alexander’s gun was, in fact, loaded.
As it was pointed toward the ceiling at Seaside High School in California, Alexander unintentionally fired a shot. Pieces of the ceiling fell into the classroom and bullet fragments ricocheted through the room.
The father of a 17-year-old student says one bullet fragment struck his son in the neck.
“He’s shaken up, but he’s going to be okay,” said Fermin Gonzales, an injured student’s father.
“It’s the craziest thing,” he added. “It could have been very bad.”
Gonzales also stated that he only learned about the incident after his son came home with the fragment still embedded in his neck and blood on this clothing.
“I’m just pretty upset that no one told us anything,” said Gonzales, during an interview with KSBW. “And we had to call the police ourselves to report it.”
The district did release a statement, saying, “Upon learning of the incident, school site administration, the District Office, and the Seaside Police Department immediately began investigating, including interviewing students in the class. It was determined that there was no immediate threat to students or staff, and school remained in session.”
Alexander has apologized for the incident and has been placed on administrative leave both by Seaside High School and the Sand City Police Department.
The matter is being investigated by local authorities, though the event is being treated as an accident.
“I have concerns about why he was displaying a loaded firearm in a classroom,” said Sand City police chief Brian Ferrante. “We will be looking into that.”
According to Ferrante, Alexander has been a reserve police officer for the department for the past 11 years. He described Alexander’s performance as an officer “positive and professional,” and Alexander was even named the 2013 Reserve Officer of the Year.
Alexander is also a member of the Seaside City Council and a volunteer with the Red Cross.
Teachers are not legally permitted to bring firearms into classrooms in California, even if they possess a valid concealed carry permit.
According to the district’s statement, “California law prohibits firearms on campus, and MPUSD’s Board of Education policy prohibits any person other than authorized law enforcement or security personnel from possessing weapons, imitation firearms, or dangerous instruments of any kind in school buildings, on school grounds or buses, or at a school-related or school-sponsored activity away from school, or while going to or coming from school.”