National News

Stoneman Douglas Teacher Arrested After Forgetting Loaded Gun at Beach

Posted April 13, 2018 9:52 a.m. EDT

After the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that killed 17 people in February, President Donald Trump vowed to train and arm teachers to secure schools and stop future massacres.

Many teachers and their unions fiercely rejected the president’s suggestion, but one Stoneman Douglas educator, Sean Simpson, said he would consider it.

“There are some of us that are willing to take the training if it was offered and probably be another line of defense,” Simpson, a chemistry teacher, told MSNBC a week after the shooting at the school, in Parkland, Florida. He cautioned, however, “I’m not sure if it’s the answer.”

This past weekend’s events may provide a clue. Simpson was charged Sunday with failing to safely store a weapon after he accidentally left his Glock 9 millimeter handgun at a beach restroom, the Broward County Sheriff’s Office said.

By the time Simpson realized it was missing and returned to the restroom, at the Deerfield Beach Pier, a homeless man who was drunk had picked it up and fired a bullet into a wall.

Simpson, 43, grabbed the gun from the man. The deputies who responded to the scene arrested the teacher, and he was booked into the county jail on a second-degree misdemeanor charge, which can carry a maximum 60-day jail sentence.

Simpson, who was released after posting $250 bond, did not respond to an email seeking comment.

In an interview about the episode, Simpson told Local 10, the ABC station in Miami, that he did not believe he had violated Broward County Public Schools policy. A schools spokeswoman said Friday that the district had not yet decided whether to take any action against Simpson.

While Trump’s call for arming schoolteachers has gained little momentum across the country, Gov. Rick Scott of Florida recently signed gun control measures that included a controversial provision: $67 million to create a school “marshal” program. The program would allow districts to arm and train some school employees, including librarians and counselors, but not full-time classroom teachers.

School officials and students in Broward County did not want the program, which was named after Aaron Feis, a coach who died in the massacre. This week, school board members there voted not to participate and encouraged the state to redirect the $67 million to pay for additional school resource officers.

Some critics of the president’s plan have pointed to recent cases that they say highlight the dangers of arming teachers. Last month, a teacher in Seaside, California, accidentally fired a handgun at school when he was showing it to students during an advanced public safety class. Three students suffered minor injuries, and the teacher resigned this week.

Two weeks after the Parkland shooting, a Georgia high school teacher was arrested after he barricaded himself in his classroom and fired through a window, the authorities said. A student was injured when she tried to run away.