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Seaside teacher resigns after firing gun in class

Seaside teacher accidentally fires gun in class

SEASIDE, Calif. - UPDATE: 4/12/2018 1:34 p.m. A teacher who accidentally fired a gun inside a Seaside classroom while teaching firearm safety has resigned.

Dennis Alexander submitted his resignation to the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District on March 29. It will be effective at the end of the school year.
    
On March 13, Alexander was pointing the gun at the ceiling to make sure it was not loaded when the weapon discharged. No one sustained serious injuries.
    
School district spokeswoman Marci McFadden said Alexander remains on administrative leave while the internal disciplinary process continues.
    
Alexander is an administration of justice teacher at Seaside High School, reserve Sand City police officer, and Seaside City Council member.
 

PREVIOUS STORY:  3/23/2018 9:00 p.m.: Seaside Police say they have wrapped up their investigation into the teacher accused of accidentally firing a gun in a classroom.

The incident happened March 13th at Seaside High School while Dennis Alexander was teaching a public safety course.

Alexander is also a reserve police officer for Sand City and Mayor Pro Tem in Seaside.

Seaside Police say based on their investigation, the gun firing still appears to have been accidental.    

Police say the case is now being turned over to the Monterey County District Attorney who will determine if charges need to be filed.

"Whatever the District Attorney believes is appropriate given the circumstances, that's what will happen," said Chief Abdul Pridgen, with the Seaside Police Department, "We handle this case the same way we would any other case and it's not as cut and [dry] as what might appear on the surface."

The Seaside Police Chief says nearly thirty students and adults were interviewed in their investigation.

PREVIOUS STORY: 3/16/2018 3:01 p.m.: Support is pouring in just days after a Seaside High School teacher accidentally fired a gun in class.

Dennis Alexander was teaching a public safety course when his gun went off.

Alexander wears many hats: he's a Red Cross volunteer, a reserve Sand City police officer, and a Seaside council member.

Many of Alexander's students came to support him at Thursday night's city council meeting, during which he offered what many felt was a sincere apology.

"I wasn't surprised by his showing up last night. It would have been easier not to show up. He showed up and he was ready to take anything that came. And what came was this wave of love," Seaside City Manager Craig Malin said.

The two-hour meeting was filled with emotional testimonies.

"What made me tear up was probably the candor of some of the students. They really told some personal stories and … they credited him with literally turning their lives around," city council member Jason Campbell said.

Campbell also said the students inspired him and his colleagues to write a letter to the school district in support of Alexander.

They said what happened was a big mistake, but Alexanders students and fellow council members want people to look at the man as a whole and his contributions to the community.

UPDATE: 3/14/2018 4:05 p.m.: A school district spokeswoman said the teacher who accidentally fired his gun inside a Seaside classroom was not authorized to have a firearm at school.
    
Monterey Peninsula Unified School District spokeswoman Marci McFadden said that only school resource officers are authorized to carry guns.
    
She said Dennis Alexander is "a teacher and was not authorized to carry a firearm on campus."
    
She said authorities are investigating why Alexander had a gun in the classroom and if school officials were aware of his intention to bring one to Seaside High School.
    
Police said Alexander was teaching a gun safety lesson for his administration of justice class when his gun accidentally went off and injured three students.

A petition is being circulated among Seaside High School students, hoping to save Dennis Alexander's job.

We asked the school district if that petition would have any influence; they issued this statement:

"Our school and the district have received feedback and as you can imagine it is varied based on each individual's perspective. Again there is an ongoing investigation, and once that investigation is completed, we will determine our next steps."

KION will continue to follow this story as it develops.

PREVIOUS STORY:  The mother of a 17-year-old student who was injured when his teacher accidentally fired his gun inside a California classroom said she is still in shock the class continued while her son sat there unchecked.
    
Crystal Gonzales said the accident at Seaside High School happened at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday and that police arrived at the school to investigate three hours later.
    
Gonzales said her son sustained moderate injuries when bullet fragments lodged in his neck.
    
She said that after the class ended, her son went to a relative's home and called her to tell her what happened.
    
Gonzales said she and her husband then took their son to a hospital to make sure no shrapnel was left in his neck.
    
She said her son is fine but she is still upset because she says no one called a nurse or paramedics to check on the injured students.

PREVIOUS STORY: 3/13/2018 10:00 p.m.: A gun fired inside a Seaside classroom Tuesday.

A student was sent to the hospital and the teacher who accidentally shot the gun is on administrative leave.

The gun was shot during a public safety course at Seaside High School.

Though no one was seriously hurt police are investigating.

The teacher, whose name is Dennis Alexander, is also a reserve officer with the Sand City Police.

He was teaching public safety in his administration of justice class when the gun accidentally went off.

"[The teacher] accidentally discharged his firearm into the ceiling," said Chief Abdul D. Pridgen with the Seaside Police Department.

Though the gun didn't shoot anyone directly, one student was hurt.

"Fragments from the bullet struck a student in the neck," Pridgen said, "Fortunately there were no serious injuries, the student was ultimately transported to the hospital where they're being checked out."

"My God, [it's] good that it went up to the ceiling, what if someone, somehow, got hit?" said parent Halie Martinez, "There should be precautions when it comes to that."

Seaside Police says their department doesn't need to be notified when a gun is being used in class but say bringing a real gun into a classroom is unusual.

"Best practice is you don't take live firearms into a classroom," Chief Pridgen said, "You take what is called a dummy gun which looks like a real gun but you can't even put a magazine in it and you certainly can't put bullets in it. I'm not sure what circumstances led to a firearm being used in this class."

One of the many questions police hope to answer through an investigation.

"Interviewing some of the witnesses, the children in the classroom, the teacher to determine how it happened and also if there are any violations of the city code or penal code," Pridgen said.

The chief says the investigation could take anywhere from several weeks to a month to be finished.

KION will update this story as it develops.

PREVIOUS STORY: A teacher at Seaside High School accidentally fired a gun inside a classroom Tuesday afternoon. 

Dennis Alexander was teaching a course about public safety for his Administration of Justice class when a shot went off around 1:20 p.m. 

Police said, Alexander is also a reserve police officer for the City of Sand City. 

A notice sent out to parents said the gun was facing the ceiling when it went off and debris from the ceiling fell. 

No one was seriously injured during the incident. 

An investigation is underway and school has resumed. 

Alexander has been placed on administrative leave for the duration of the on-going investigation. 

The message below was sent out to parents and guardians: 


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