Teacher fires weapon in class by mistake

LOS ANGELES • At least one California high school student was injured when a teacher accidentally discharged a gun in class during a firearms safety course.

The incident, which occurred on Tuesday, came as a police officer assigned to a school in the state of Virginia accidentally fired his service weapon inside his office and was placed on administrative leave.

The massacre of 17 students and staff in Florida last month has ignited a nationwide debate over whether some teachers should be armed, with President Donald Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos in favour.

Mr Dennis Alexander, a teacher at Seaside High School in California's Monterey County, fired a semi-automatic handgun as it was pointed at the ceiling, said police chief Abdul Pridge.

He said no one was hit by gunfire or seriously hurt and police registered one injury in the incident, although local media reported that three teenagers were struck by falling masonry.

"One student had an abrasion to his neck, a red mark. When the bullet stroked the ceiling some debris came down. We didn't confirm two others," Seaside police commander Judy Veloz said.

"There was no panic in the school. The teacher has been put on administrative leave. We're still investigating... The school is open as usual."

Mr Fermin Gonzales, the father of the 17-year-old injured boy, told NBC affiliate KSBW that Mr Alexander had informed the class he was going to demonstrate how to disarm someone and was checking if the weapon was loaded.

"It's the craziest thing," said Mr Gonzales, who added that bruising to his son's neck appeared to have been caused by a bullet fragment.

Mr Alexander, who also teaches mathematics, has been placed on leave both as a teacher and in his position as a reserve officer for the Sand City Police Department.

The Alexandria Police Department in Virginia, meanwhile, said it was investigating after an officer accidentally discharged his weapon at George Washington Middle School on Tuesday morning. Nobody was injured in the incident.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 16, 2018, with the headline 'Teacher fires weapon in class by mistake'. Print Edition | Subscribe