TAYLORSVILLE — An elementary school teacher was injured Thursday when her concealed firearm accidentally went off inside a school bathroom.
But investigators said she may not have been directly hit by the bullet.
Westbrook Elementary School sixth-grade teacher Michelle Ferguson-Montegomery was injured in her lower calf just before school began. The shooting occurred in the faculty restroom of the school, 3451 W. 6200 South, about 8:45 a.m.
Originally it was believed that Ferguson-Montgomery, a concealed weapons permit holder, was shot in the leg by her handgun. But later Thursday, Granite School District spokesman Ben Horsley said doctors determined that most of her injuries came when the bullet struck a toilet and porcelain fragments were propelled into her leg. Whether she was actually grazed by the bullet herself was still being investigated, he said.
No one else witnessed the shooting. School starts at 9 a.m. Although no students saw the incident, "a handful" of students may have heard the gunshot, and some students later saw the teacher being wheeled out by paramedics and loaded onto an ambulance, he said.
Horsley stressed that no students were ever in any danger.
Ferguson-Montgomery was released from the hospital Thursday afternoon. She will be placed on medical leave and will not be teaching Friday. District administrators will now wait for the outcome of a police investigation before deciding what action to take, Horsley said.
Granite School District police said their initial investigation showed that it could reasonably be concluded that the shooting was an accident.
One sixth-grade student who was picked up from school by her mother and taken home after the incident said it was a frightening event.
"We saw that one of the sixth-grade teachers wasn't here and we were like, 'Maybe she's the one who got shot,'" said Jerelyn Lowe. "We were just scared."
The incident has raised questions about why the elementary school teacher was carrying a concealed weapon in the school.
"State law allows it, and the district has no authority to prevent concealed weapons permit holders access to our campuses," Horsley said. "Additionally, permit holders are not required to disclose their status as a permit holder, and/or whether they are carrying a weapon or not, to their employer, or in this case, the principal or school district."
Horsley further explained that state law does allow teachers with permits to carry concealed weapons on school grounds as long as the teacher makes no indication that he or she is carrying a weapon and the weapon is not visible. In addition, district policy requires teachers with concealed weapons permits to have possession and be in control of their weapon at all times. That means a teacher cannot legally put their weapon in a purse, briefcase, desk drawer or closet — even if it has a lock — while at school, he said.
The weapon must be with the teacher at all times.
The district will be reviewing whether the teacher was adhering to district policy, Horsley said.
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