Bolstering recent warnings about the dangers of giving guns to teachers—a proposal touted by the gun lobby as well as President Donald Trump and other Republicans following the deadly school shooting in Parkland, Florida last month—a high school teacher and reserve cop in California accidentally fired a weapon in his classroom this week, injuring three students, according to local reports.
"This was an incident with a trained professional. If [a gun] is given to everybody, a teacher at the school... this could happen again and again, and it could be a lot worse."
—father of injured student
Police officers were called to Seaside High School on Tuesday after Dennis Alexander—a teacher and reserve officer for Sand City, California—"accidentally discharged a firearm" while "providing instruction related to public safety awareness," the Seaside Police Department said in a statement.
Weighing in on the national debate about arming teachers as a safety measure, Fermin Gonzales III, the parent of an injured student, told local broadcaster KSBW: "This was an incident with a trained professional. If it is given to everybody, a teacher at the school... this could happen again and again, and it could be a lot worse."
Others, including Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), echoed the father's warnings as the story started to make national headlines:
So a teacher, who is a reserved police officer, accidentally fired a gun and injured a student. If this incident doesn’t end any further insanity about arming teachers, I don’t know what will. @SteveKerr https://t.co/3uLNkmjbWO
— Ro Khanna (@RoKhanna) March 14, 2018
I wish that this would end of any talk of arming teachers. One accidentally fired a round in a California classroom, and bullet fragments hit a kid in the neck. The teacher is a reserve police officer. So he has some training. Enough of this insane idea. https://t.co/gGQ4FjkpqK
— Jamil Smith (@JamilSmith) March 14, 2018
Arming teachers will only result in more death and injury. This is a fringe idea being mainstreamed by the gun lobby. Time to stand up to them!#Enough #NationalWalkoutDay #NeverAgain https://t.co/031SVxAGTI
— CSGV (@CSGV) March 14, 2018
The local police chief told the Monterey County Weekly that one "male student was struck in the neck by 'debris or fragmentation' from something overhead, and was transported to the Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula for treatment," and emphasized that "it was not a bullet, and was 'not life threatening.'"
However, KSBW reported that three students were injured, including 17-year-old Fermin Gonzales IV, who "suffered moderate injuries when fragments from the bullet ricocheted off the ceiling and lodged into his neck."
"The 17-year-old boy's parents were shocked when he returned home with blood on his shirt and bullet fragments in his neck," KSBW added, citing the boy's father, Gonzales III. "The student's parents rushed him to a hospital for X-rays."
"He's shaken up, but he's going to be OK," the father said of his injured son. "I'm just pretty upset that no one told us anything and we had to call the police ourselves to report it."
The school district's superintendent, PK Diffenbaugh, acknowledged in an interview with the Monterey County Weekly that it is a violation of school district board policy and state law for anyone to carry a firearm on school property without advance authorization, and that Alexander had not received such permission.
A letter sent home to parents, according to local reports, says the teacher—who was not named in the letter—has been placed on administrative leave while the school's human resources department, administration, and local police continue to investigate the incident.