Teacher takes plea after gun discharges at school
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A Utah schoolteacher whose gun accidentally went off in an elementary school bathroom agreed Wednesday to pay a fine and take a firearm-safety class as part of a plea deal.
Michelle Montgomery has already paid $200 to replace a toilet that exploded when her handgun discharged in the faculty bathroom on Sept. 11. She pleaded no contest Wednesday to a misdemeanor charge of illegal discharge of a gun. It will be dismissed if she pays a $705 court fee and commits no new crimes over the next year.
Defense attorney Douglas Hoyt declined to comment during a court appearance Wednesday.
Police say the 39-year-old teacher’s gun went off after she put it on top of a toilet-paper dispenser, though she initially told police it went off after it fell out of her holster, the Salt Lake Tribune reported (http://bit.ly/10w85km). She suffered minor injuries when fragments from the toilet or a bullet struck her in the leg, police said.
Montgomery, a sixth-grade teacher, resigned after the incident. She had been at Westbrook Elementary School for 14 years in a suburb of Salt Lake City.
She was allowed to have the gun in school in Utah, which is among the few states that let concealed-weapons permit holders to have firearms in public schools, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Teachers are not required to disclose that they are carrying a weapon, and administrators are prohibited from asking if they carry or barring them from bringing their weapons.
Educators have said they have no way of determining how many Utah teachers are armed, but gun-rights advocates estimated several years ago that 1 percent, or about 240 teachers in the state, are licensed to carry weapons.
The Granite School District requires teachers who carry guns at school to keep the weapons on their body at all times, even in a bathroom stall.
A similar incident occurred in 2009 in the bathroom of a restaurant in Centerville, Utah. A customer’s concealed weapon accidentally fell out of a holster, hit the floor and fired, shattering the toilet.
Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune, http://www.sltrib.com