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Deputies: Pasco school officer’s gun discharges in cafeteria, no one injured

Pasco County

Pasco County deputies say no one was injured when a school resource officer’s gun “incidentally discharged” in a middle school cafeteria on Tuesday.

The incident happened at Weightman Middle School in Wesley Chapel. A spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office says the school resource officer assigned to Weightman was in the cafeteria at the time.

The officer, who was not named by the sheriff’s office, was “leaning against the wall when his holstered, duty-issued firearm incidentally discharged into the wall behind him,” deputies say. There were no injuries to students, staff or the school resource officer.

“We’d like to reiterate that the weapon discharged directly into the wall and no students were in danger,” the sheriff’s office spokeswoman said in a statement.

Lt. Troy Ferguson with the Pasco Sheriff’s Office says experts will now break down the weapon to see what happened. Lt. Ferguson said the gun involved was a Sig Sauer 9mm. 

“There are a number of features on the threat level 3 holsters that we carry with our firearms, so there are a number of dynamic factors that are involved with fine motor skills functions that would cause that to happen,” Ferguson said. “So we have to really kind of dissect that.”

In response to the news, many have asked about the safety on the firearm. During a news conference, Lt. Ferguson said, “the weapons are not carried with a safety mechanism, per se. They’re carried ready to use.”

The sheriff’s office says there will also be a full administrative investigation. 

The SRO involved has been placed on paid administration leave, per sheriff’s office protocol.

Eighth grader Madison Lane says her ears rang for hours after the gunshot rang out in the lunch line. She was standing right next to the SRO, about a foot away, when the gun discharged. 

“I grab my tray he’s right here and BOOM, it happened,” she described. “It scared me so bad I dropped my tray!” 

“It just really scared me because it was so loud,” she added. 

Madison’s mom Christine Lane heard about the incident through an automated call from the district but had no idea her daughter was so dangerously close until she got home. 

 “Anything could have happened to her,” Lane said. “I’m just so thankful she’s okay and that everyone involved is okay.” 

Chanel Patel wasn’t in the lunch line but heard the gunshot go off as well. The 6th grader already suffers from severe anxiety and says the incident only made it worse. 

“When I first heard the gunshot…I was like what if there is a school shooting and this is where I die?” she said. 

Her father Neil Patel worries about how Tuesday’s incident will impact her and the safety of the school. He points to the accidental discharge at the hands of a trained, experienced deputy for why teachers and other staff in his daughter’s school shouldn’t be armed. 

Shortly after the incident, the Florida Education Association released a statement on Twitter saying “This should serve as a cautionary note before the Florida House takes up #SB7030 which seeks to put more firearms on the Florida’s public school campuses.”

The Florida House was taking up SB-7030 Tuesday afternoon. 

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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