At Sunset High School around 1:20 p.m. today, students were shocked when their teacher, Dennis Alexander, accidentally fired a gun that was pointed at the ceiling during a class demonstration. Police and school administration investigated, the teacher apologized, and classes resumed shortly.
However, KSBW reports that one 17-year-old student returned home with a blood-stained shirt and what appeared to be bullet fragments lodged in his neck. The parents rushed their son to the hospital for an X-ray. Seaside Police Chief Abdul Pridgen said that it was “debris or fragmentation,” not a bullet, and “not life threatening,” according to Monterey County Weekly.
The injured student’s parents are upset that the school did not notify them, and that they were the first to file a police report. The father, Fermin Gonzales, says that the teacher wanted to make sure his gun wasn’t loaded when it fired.
Superintendent PK Diffenbaugh told Monterey County Weekly that Alexander, who is also a reserve police officer, did not have the school’s permission to carry a firearm on campus. In fact, it’s illegal to do so without authorization.
Alexander is on administrative leave with both the school district and police department during the ongoing investigation.
The teacher has been a reserve Sand City police officer for 11 years and serves as a Sand City councilman, according to The Californian.
There have been other incidents involving people getting accidentally shot during gun safety classes. Fox News describes one incident when a DEA officer shot himself in the leg while teaching school-age children the importance of gun safety. In another instance, a gun safety teacher accidentally shot a pastor, who was attending the course, reported ABC 13.
This Seaside incident is unique, however, because it was not exclusively a gun safety class and the teacher had an unauthorized gun on school grounds. Questions remain about why the teacher had a loaded gun on campus. Sand City Police Chief Brian Ferrante is wondering the same, according to KSBW.
“I have concerns about why he was displaying a loaded firearm in a classroom. We will be looking into that.”
Also notable is that tomorrow is “Walkout Wednesday,” a national walkout organized by Women’s March Youth Empower. The organization website says that it’s a student-run initiative by activists between 14 and 23 years old.
Participating students plan to walk out of class to protest gun violence, reports Time. It takes place exactly one month after the Parkland shooting, and will last for 17 minutes, one minute for each victim.