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Teacher accidentally fires gun in CA high school during class on public safety

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SALINAS, Calif. — A teacher accidentally fired a gun Tuesday during a class about public safety at a California classroom, police say.

Seaside High School teacher Dennis Alexander inadvertently fired one shot off at 1:20 p.m., according to a press release from the Seaside Police Department. 

He was pointing the gun at the ceiling when he inadvertently fired it, said Abdul Pridgen, chief of the Seaside Police Department.

Police did not specify what type of gun was used. A call seeking comment was not immediately returned. 

One student suffered an injury to his neck from either bullet fragments or debris falling from the ceiling, Pridgen said. The student's parents took him to the Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula, he said. 

The injury wasn't serious, according to police. 

RELATED: Gunshot at Georgia school ignites debate on arming teachers

Alexander had been teaching a room of 16- and 17-year-old students about public safety awareness, police said. 

School resumed shortly after the incident once police and staff determined it was safe, said Marci McFadden, chief of communication and engagement with the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District. 

Alexander also serves as a reserve police officer for the Sand City police and is a Seaside city councilman.

Police and school administrators say they are investigating whether Alexander was legally allowed to have a gun on campus. Guns and other weapons are prohibited on campus, though there are exceptions involving law enforcement, Pridgen said. 

The Monterey school district's policy prohibits anyone besides school resource officers from carrying guns and other weapons on campus, McFadden said.

Alexander has been put on administrative leave during the investigation, though it wasn't clear whether it was paid or unpaid leave, McFadden said. The school will have counselors available to students Wednesday.

The incident comes amid a national debate on school safety and whether teachers should be armed on school campuses.

Pridgen declined to weigh in on that national debate. 

Story courtesy of USA Today and The Californian.

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