Texas school staffer shot during gun class
HOUSTON -- A Texas school worker shot in the leg during a school-sponsored concealed handgun training class has been released from the hospital, officials said.
The maintenance worker, identified by KLTV as Glen Geddie, was released from East Texas Medical Center in Tyler on Thursday morning, according to Rebecca Berkley, a spokeswoman for the hospital.
A spokeswoman for the Van Independent School District told the Los Angeles Times on Thursday that she could not confirm whether Geddie was the individual injured in the shooting. Police in Van, about 80 miles east of Dallas, referred questions to the district. Geddie could not be reached at the hospital or at home.
The school district released a statement to The Times confirming that at the end of the concealed handgun class Wednesday, a “certified student” had “stayed for private instruction with the instructor and had a mechanical malfunction with his weapon. With the assistance of the instructor, the malfunction was addressed, but the gun misfired and the bullet ricocheted coming back to strike the VISD [Van Independent School District] employee in the left leg. The VISD employee was attended to at the scene and transferred to Tyler for further treatment. The injury is not life-threatening or disabling.”
Geddie was taken to the hospital, treated in the ICU and released, Berkley said.
It was not clear where the class was being held, or who the instructor was.
Texas state law allows teachers who have concealed handgun permits to carry weapons in public school classrooms if they have permission from the superintendent.
Last month, the Van school board, which serves more than 2,000 students, made it the second district in Texas to allow guns on campus, authorizing certain school employees to carry guns on school property, at school events and at school board meetings.
Van superintendent Don Dunn told KLTV at the time that the district offered the handgun classes to employees to better protect students.
“We are going to go above and beyond on all-out training,” Dunn said, citing the response time it takes for police to respond to a possible incident at their five campuses -- about five minutes.
“With this policy we feel we are able to protect our kids and our staff during this critical time,” Dunn told KLTV.
School board member Lesley Goode, who runs a local Texaco station, told the Tyler Morning Telegraph that Wednesday’s shooting would not change his mind about the decision to arm some teachers. Goode did not return calls Thursday.
In the wake of the Newtown, Conn., school shooting in December, other Texas school officials and lawmakers have taken similar steps to expand legal access to guns at schools, including Republican State Rep. Debbie Riddle, who has introduced a measure to require school boards and superintendents to give permission to teachers who have completed the concealed handgun licensing course to carry weapons in class.
“We’re waiting for the school districts and or the state to define what type of training people need to carry in the classroom,” said Larry Browning, a senior instructor at Canton, Texas-based Tactical & Defensive of Texas, adding that he thinks such students need added training in handling firearms and making judgment calls about when to shoot -- more than the standard concealed handgun license training, which he said, “makes you nothing but legal.”
In recent months, schools and churches across the state have partnered with private instructors like Browning to teach concealed handgun classes to school employees, often for free, drawing hundreds of people.
Browning just offered a free training to school staff in Plano, Texas, last Saturday that drew 75 people, about half of them teachers.
“We don’t sell guns or ammo. We’re not making money on this. We simply wanted to make sure our teachers are able to do what’s necessary to protect our children,” Browning told The Times.
He said he doesn’t think the Van incident will damage the popularity of the classes he teaches or the willingness of school officials to allow staff to carry concealed handguns to school in some parts of the state.
“If anything, it will simply reinforce the thought that if you’re going to take the responsibility to carry a firearm, you need to be safe with it,” he said.
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