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Teacher, reserve officer, apologizes for accidentally firing gun in classroom

Three students were injured after Dennis Alexander pointed a gun toward a ceiling and inadvertently fired a round during a lecture


We updated the language in the LA Times story which inaccurately referred to the officer's weapon as a "revolver." 

By Corina Knoll and Alene Tchekmedyian
Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES — The Monterey County high school teacher who accidentally fired a gun during a lecture on "public safety awareness" has publicly apologized for the classroom incident that injured three students.

Dennis Alexander, who also serves as mayor pro tem of Seaside, made an impromptu speech Thursday at a regularly scheduled City Council meeting filled with hundreds of supporters.

In this Oct. 4, 2010, file photo, Seaside City Council member Dennis Alexander speaks during an election forum in Seaside, Calif. (David Royal/ Monterey County Herald via AP, File)
In this Oct. 4, 2010, file photo, Seaside City Council member Dennis Alexander speaks during an election forum in Seaside, Calif. (David Royal/ Monterey County Herald via AP, File)

"I want to apologize from the bottom of my heart," Alexander said in footage by local news outlet KSBW. "I can't find the words to say how sorry I am."

Since the Tuesday afternoon event, the community has rallied around the teacher and Sand City reserve police officer.

"We are his family, and we are here to protect what is ours," said one student at the public comment session that, according to Seaside city clerk Lesley Milton-Rerig, lasted for two hours.

"There was such an outpouring of support," Milton-Rerig said. "The council chamber was filled with students and signs, inside and outside. There was nothing on the agenda that would have related to that in any way, but [Alexander] asked the mayor if he could comment."

Alexander, who has served on the council for eight years, thanked those who have stayed in his corner throughout the ordeal.

"It helps a lot. It gets me through the day," he said.

The Seaside High School website lists Anderson as an educator in the career and technical department responsible for introductory classes on fire and police, as well as public safety.

KSBW reported that Alexander fired his service weapon, a Glock 21 semi-automatic .45-caliber pistol.

When the gun went off, Anderson was "attempting to ensure a weapon was safe and free of any bullets" when he pointed it toward the ceiling and inadvertently fired a round, Seaside Police Chief Abdul Pridgen said Wednesday.

Officers were called to Seaside High School about 1:20 p.m.

Three students, 16 and 17 years old, sustained minor injuries — cuts and scrapes — after they were struck by bullet fragments or ceiling debris, Pridgen said. Seaside police said in a news release that no one was "seriously injured."

One student had a cut near his eye, while another had a cut on his neck. A third student's arm had some inflammation.

In at least one case, the student's parents took the teen to a hospital. School resumed after the incident.

Alexander, who Pridgen said has taught this safety class in the past, did not respond to a request for comment.

It's unclear whether he will face charges in the incident. Pridgen said detectives will present the results of their investigation to the Monterey County district attorney's office, which will decide whether charges are appropriate.

The incident came a day before tens of thousands of students across the country staged a historic national walkout to push political leaders to take action to prevent gun violence on and off campuses. The walkout was in response to the massacre at a Parkland, Fla., school where a gunman killed 17 people.

©2018 the Los Angeles Times

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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