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Teacher, reserve officer, accidentally fires gun at Calif. school

Three students were injured after the reserve officer, who's also a teacher, was teaching a gun safety course when he fired a single shot into the ceiling


By Jason Green
The Mercury News

SEASIDE, Calif. — A teacher injured three students Tuesday when he accidentally fired a gun inside a Seaside High School classroom, according to reports.

The teacher was identified as Dennis Alexander, a reserve police officer for the Sand City Police Department and a Seaside councilman. Alexander was teaching a gun safety course as part of his administration of justice class when he fired a single shot from a semi-automatic handgun into the ceiling, the Monterey County Herald and KSBW reported.

Three students were injured, including a 17-year-old boy who was hit in the neck by debris or a fragment after the bullet ricocheted off the ceiling, said Seaside police Chief Abdul D. Pridgen. The boy was not seriously injured and classes resumed, the Herald reported.

The shooting occurs amid intense debate over whether to arm teachers in the wake of the Parkland, Fla. shooting that left 17 dead and another 17 injured. On Wednesday, students across the country are set to walk out of their classrooms to raise awareness about gun violence and safety.

Alexander has taught the course in the past, but Pridgen said he did not know if the reserve officer had ever brought a loaded firearm to the school before, the Herald reported.

“We’re looking into any violation of city ordinance or the penal code and we’ll determine whether or not there are any applicable charges,” Pridgen told the Herald.

According to KSBW, the father of the 17-year-old boy who was injured said Alexander had just told the class he wanted to make sure the firearm was not loaded when it went off. Alexander was planning to use the gun for a demonstration for how to disarm someone.

“It’s the craziest thing. It could have been very bad,” Gonzales said.

Sand City police Chief Brian Ferrante told KSBW, “I have concerns about why he (Alexander) was displaying a loaded firearm in a classroom. We will be looking into that.”

Ferrante said Alexander has been a reserve Sand City police officer for the past 11 years, and described his track record as “positive and professional,” according to KSBW. He was named reserve officer of the year in 2013.

In an email to parents, the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District said, “Upon learning of the incident, our Human Resources department, school site administration and the Seaside Police Department immediately began investigating the incident, including interviewing students in the class.”

The letter also stated that the district is unable to share any other details other than Alexander has been placed on administrative leave for the duration of the on-going investigation.

Check back for updates.

©2018 the San Jose Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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