Dennis Alexander: California high school teacher accidentally fires gun in class

Posted at 6:30 AM, Mar 15, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-15 06:35:36-04

(KSBW/CNN) - A California high school teacher remains on administrative leave after he accidentally fired a handgun in a classroom full of students Tuesday.

The teacher is also on leave from his job as a reserve police officer.

Many are questioning how a teacher at Seaside High School in Seaside, Calif., was able to have a loaded firearm on campus that accidentally went off in class, injuring students.

"Those demonstrations should be done with a demo gun made of plastic and not a real gun," said P.K. Diffenbaugh, Monterey Peninsula Unified School District Superintendent. 

It’s unclear why parents weren't notified right away.

"We responded expeditiously once we got the phone call," said Seaside Police Chief Abdul Pridgen.

However, that phone call reportedly happened hours after the shooting.

"We're reviewing the incident. We're aware of what was said. We are bringing in some experts to ensure that the investigation goes smoothly and that we can gather both what happened and the response to what happened," said Diffenbaugh.

The teacher who fired the gun, Dennis Alexander, is also a Seaside city council member and a volunteer with the Red Cross.

Alexander has been a reserve police officer in Sand City, Calif., for more than a decade and was previously awarded reserve officer of the year.

The Sand City police chief said it's unclear why Alexander took his service weapon to school and handled it the way he did.

A man with so much experience accidentally shooting his handgun is fueling questions about the concept of arming teachers in schools.

“I think it kind of underlies the fact that, 'Hey, why would you put someone like me,' hand me a gun and expect me to protect the children when I got no training. And even if you have the training, there's a lot of information out there that says your mind goes through different things. Everything shuts down and you don't think necessarily clearly, and that's even with trained people," said Tom Grych with the Monterey Bay Teachers Association.

Students say Alexander was demonstrating gun safety when the incident happened.

A school district spokeswoman said Alexander was not authorized to bring a gun to campus.

Students at Alexander's school have launched a petition asking that the teacher keep his job.