CHINO (CBSLA.com) — A preliminary investigation into the accidental gun discharge that injured three students at Newman Elementary School in Chino shows that "the established safeguards and procedures were not followed," according to Chino's chief of police.
Three students were injured by shrapnel after a student pulled the trigger on an assault rifle mounted on a Chino police motorcycle during a school assembly for Red Ribbon Week Wednesday.
The assault rifle, an AR-15, was locked to the side of a motorcycle that was on display. According to Chino police spokeswoman Tamrin Olden, the bullet disintegrated when it hit a metal plate where the barrel rests against the weapons mount. That debris struck three children and caused minor injuries.
Two students were taken to the hospital while the third was checked out on school grounds and released back to parents. The two children who were hospitalized have been released.
"The preliminary investigation has shown that the established safeguards and procedures were not followed," Chino Police Chief Miles Pruitt said in a statement. "It is unfortunate that this event occurred and I will make every effort to ensure it does not happen again."
According to the Chino Police Department's policy with regards to patrol rifles, the following conditions must be met:
- The chamber is empty
- The rifle bolt is forward with the hammer down
- The rifle safety is off
- There is a loaded magazine in the rifle with no more than 27 rounds
- The dust cover is closed
- The rifle is stored in the locked vehicle's rifle rack or trunk
It's not known if a police officer was nearby when the accidental discharge happened. Parent Jose Rodriguez believes the incident could have been easily prevented.
"I believe that that's the cop's fault, you know, because they left the gun, you know, unlocked, so that's the main thing," he said.
Rodriguez was among several angry parents who wanted to know -- how could this have happened?
"It's crazy that, you know, the officer should have paid more attention to where he was. A lot of things could have happened," parent Natalie Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez has two children attending Newman and says both her boys haven't been the same since they heard the shot fired.
"My two boys are traumatized over it. They didn't want to come to school today," she said.
Department officials say the rifle was never removed from its mount on the officer's motorcycle and that they continue to investigate why the multiple fail-safes failed. Investigators did say that one of the fail-safes worked — the one that caused the bullet to disintegrate once the gun was fired.
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