All About That California Teacher-Cop Whose Gun Went Off in Class

Dennis Alexander was teaching a course about gun safety in Seaside when the gun went off. Fragments of a bullet got lodged in a student's neck — and nobody reported it.

If you live or work in San Francisco, you may have heard some chanting in the streets today. (You probably heard it in any one of hundreds of cities around the country, too.) That was the sound of America’s high school students demanding for sensible gun legislation before the next inevitable school massacre occurs. There was another, smaller sound, that mostly got drowned out, and that sound was smug, condescending adults retreating into the instinctive need to squash teenage idealism and lecture kids instead. The kids mostly drowned it out.

But something else happened yesterday that’s also at risk of being drowned out. In Seaside, near Carmel, there was a school-shooting incident — a minor one in comparison to what happened in Florida last month, but a significant one all the same. There are many details about it that address a ridiculous canard that’s floating around the American political system: which is that the solution to guns in the classroom is more guns in the classroom, either through arming teachers or relying on militarized schools to police every student as if they were a potential mass murderer.

Monterey County’s KSBW broke the story, which goes like this:

A teacher who also serves as a reserve police officer accidentally fired a gun inside a Seaside High School classroom Tuesday, police said, and three students were injured.

Dennis Alexander was teaching a course about gun safety for his Administration of Justice class when his gun went off at 11 a.m.

Alexander was pointing his gun at the ceiling when it fired. Pieces of the ceiling fell to the ground.

Don’t laugh at the multiple ironies. Please don’t. Because there’s more. This all happened as Alexander was checking to make sure the gun wasn’t loaded, and a 17-year-old student suffered “moderate injuries” when “fragments from the bullet ricocheted off the ceiling and lodged into his neck.”   

No one at the school checked to make sure that all of the students were uninjured, Gonzales said. The school day resumed as normal.

The 17-year-old boy’s parents were shocked when he returned home with blood on his shirt and bullet fragments in his neck. The student’s parents rushed him to a hospital for X-rays.

In short: Fragments of a police officer’s bullet hit a teenager in the neck, in a classroom, during a gun-safety demo, and nobody reported the incident or even gave the bleeding kid medical treatment. Even assuming that this poorly trained reserve officer’s law-enforcement status overrides California’s ban on teachers bringing guns to school, that’s still an officer-involved shooting where the victim is a minor. And it happened in the very place where children are presumed to be safest, and nobody even bothered to ask for a hall pass to get the nurse.

Also, getting bullet fragments embedded in your neck is not a “moderate injury.” It just is not. That’s a traumatic episode.

This is absolutely, completely off-the-wall bonkers. Wasn’t there screaming? Did everybody sit in stunned silence as plaster dust fell from the ceiling and the cop had his oh-shit moment? Didn’t another teacher hear the gun go off? Did that kid really bleed all day as hot metal shards cooled off near his carotid artery, all without making a peep? Both the Sand City Police Department and the school district have placed Alexander on administrative leave, but that is not an acceptable solution to a fuck-up situated right at that part of the Venn diagram where every circle of authority overlaps.

Next time someone suggest the answer to a bad guy with a gun is more good guys with guns, this freakishly chilling anecdote provides the definitive answer for the rest of time. Meanwhile, to every single student participating in today’s gun-control walkout: Good work, thank you, and please help save the adults from ourselves.



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