A teacher at a Northern California high school accidentally fired his gun inside a classroom, injuring three students, but continued teaching class while the students sat there, the mother of one of the students said Wednesday.
Dennis Alexander, who is also a reserve police officer, was pointing the gun at the ceiling to make sure it was not loaded when the weapon discharged Tuesday inside his classroom at Seaside High School in the coastal community of Seaside, police said.
The Seaside Police Department said no one sustained serious injuries.
Fermin Gonzales, 17, suffered moderate injuries when bullet fragments lodged in his neck, his mother Crystal Gonzales, told The Associated Press.
"I'm still really upset no one called a nurse or a paramedic to come check on the students," Gonzales said. "They just sat there until the bell rang."
The accidental shooting came amid a national debate over whether to arm teachers in the aftermath of a mass school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 students and staff members.
On Wednesday, thousands of high school students walked out of classrooms across the nation to protest gun violence in schools.
A law that took effect in California on Jan. 1 halted the ability of school districts to allow non-security employees to carry guns on campus.
Gonzales said the incident in Seaside happened Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. and that she did not hear about it until her son called her hours later when the class ended and he went to a relative's home.
Alexander was teaching a gun safety lesson in an administration of justice class and was about to show the students how to disarm someone, Gonzales said.
She said no officials contacted parents to let them know what happened and that she was shocked when her son returned home with blood on his shirt and bullet fragments in his neck. As the boy's parents rushed him to a hospital for X-rays, she said the school's principal called her cellphone to apologize.
The teen is fine, though he's still shaken up and stayed home Wednesday, his mother said.
Gonzales said police didn't arrive at the school to investigate until three hours later and the family filed a police report.
Alexander was placed on administrative leave from his teaching job and he was also placed on administrative leave at the Sand City Police Department, police and school officials said. Efforts to reach Alexander were not immediately successful.
Monterey Peninsula Unified School District sent a letter to parents saying its human resources department, the high school administrators and the Seaside Police Department "immediately began investigating the incident, including interviewing students in the class."
It said counseling was made available to students and that it could not release any other details "due to the nature of this personnel incident."