Teacher Dennis Alexander was pointing his gun at the ceiling of his classroom during a gun safety demonstration at Monterey County’s Seaside High School on Tuesday when the weapon accidentally discharged, injuring one student.
KSBW8 reports that Alexander is a licensed gun owner and reserve police officer. He was demonstrating gun safety for his Administration of Justice class, and had reportedly just told the class that he wanted to visually check that the gun wasn’t loaded. When it went off, the bullet ricocheted and fragments ended up in the neck of a 17-year-old student.
The student’s father, Fermin Gonzales, says that he was not notified of the incident, and alleges that no one at the school checked to see that everyone was uninjured in the classroom. His son returned home with blood on his shirt and the fragments still in his neck. His parents took him immediately to the hospital:
“He’s shaken up, but he’s going to be OK,” Gonzales told KSBW. “I’m just pretty upset that no one told us anything and we had to call the police ourselves to report it.”
Seaside Police Chief Abdul Pridgen told the Monterey Weekly that the fragments were not from the bullet, but from debris that fell from the ceiling upon the bullet’s impact. Alexander has been put on administrative leave at the school, and the police department is also conducting an investigation to see if any of the “department’s policies regarding the safe handling of firearms were violated.”
The school’s Superintendent PK Diffenbaugh has already confirmed that Alexander was not officially authorized to carry a gun on campus in the district, though the Administration of Justice class has been taught since at least 2014. The class focuses on public safety and the path to becoming a police officer.
“I think a lot of questions on parents’ minds are, why a teacher would be pointing a loaded firearm at the ceiling in front of students,” said Diffenbaugh. “Clearly in this incident protocols were not followed.”