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Stoneman Douglas teacher arrested for leaving loaded gun in public bathroom


BY: Mike Magnoli
DEERFIELD BEACH, Fla. (CBS12) --A shocking and embarrassing mistake that could've been deadly.

A science teacher from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School is charged for leaving a loaded gun in a public restroom, where it was discovered and fired.

As the details are coming to light, gun rights activists are pushing back on the notion that all gun owners -- particularly teachers -- should be judged by one absentminded accident.

The incident happened at the Deerfield Beach pier, a place that's popular with tourists and where many students from Stoneman Douglas hang out on the weekends.

According to the Broward Sheriffs Office, Sean Simpson, 43, went into the men's bathroom, set his gun down to use the bathroom, then left the gun behind.

Within minutes, it was discovered by someone else and fired.

Simpson is now facing charges with a misdemeanor count of failing to safely secure a firearm, according to arrest reports. The responding deputy noted the situation could've been fatal if things played out differently, given Deerfield's popularity with families.

On Sunday, Simpson was at Deerfield Pier and used the restroom, the report shows. When he sat on the toilet, he put his Glock 9 mm on a railing inside his stall. He left-- forgetting it-- and minutes later, when he remembered the weapon, he hurried back to retrieve it.

But in that time, according to deputies, 69-year old-Joseph Spataro picked it up and pulled the trigger to see if it was loaded -- firing a bullet into the wall.

Spataro is charged for mishandling a firearm while drunk and trespassing on the pier.

The Broward School District released this statement.

Safety and security remain the District’s highest priorities. The District is aware of an incident, which occurred over the weekend at the Deerfield Beach Pier. At this juncture, no determination regarding employee discipline has been made, pending the final disposition of the charges.But Lori Alhadeff, who lost her daughter Ali in the shooting at Stoneman Douglas and has since become a school safety advocate, says this is unacceptable.

A gathering after her daughter's tombstone is unveiled will soon take place on the pier.

"His accident could've caused the death of a teenager and it's negligence, you can't just leave a gun in the bathroom and walk away and forget about it," Alhadeff said.

No one answered the door at Simpson's listed address.

As gun control is being discussed nationally, 24-year-old Anna Wolf -- a licensed gun owner -- says this incident is an outlier and that the vast majority of gun owners are habitually extra cautious.

"Not all of us are going to leave our guns in the bathroom for an intoxicated person to find. It doesn't paint all gun owners as bad," she said.

Simpson was released after posting a $250 bond.

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