SRO's holstered gun fires in Pasco County middle school lunch room

No one was physically injured when a Pasco County school resource officer’s holstered gun unintentionally discharged in a crowded cafeteria Tuesday afternoon. However, students were shaken.

The bullet hit a brick wall and a tile floor at Weightman Middle School. The sheriff’s office said the SRO was leaning against a wall during lunch when his gun discharged while still in the holster.

“We trust these officers to protect our students. If they have equipment that can have an accident, then our children are in danger,” said parent Lisa Fox, whose 6th-grade son attends the school.

Parents said they received a phone call and email about the incident. Many want to know how it could happen.

“He was in the lunch feeding line. So, if you can envision students picking up their trays and moving along the line, he would have had students passing in front of him, a few feet to the front and five or six feet down to the right,” said Lt. Troy Fergueson, of the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office.

Fergueson said their duty-issued gun has no safety lock and is always chambered and ready to use.

“The deputy was very distraught and felt horrible that this situation had occurred,” said Fergueson.

When asked how often this occurs, he said, "It's very rare. It has happened, but there's usually an explanation and that's what we're in search of."

Staff removed students from the cafeteria after the incident, and they went on to class.

“There will be a full administrative investigation into this matter,” an agency spokesperson added.

Some parents are making sure their children understand what happened.

“We don’t keep guns around the house, so I don’t know if he heard the gunfire if he knew what it was,” said Fox about her son. “Obviously, we’ll have some discussion about it to make sure he’s okay, and there’s no anxiety going back to school

The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office said it’s possible the gun malfunctioned, so weapons experts will check it out.

The deputy involved is on paid administrative leave until the investigation concludes.