Stoneman Douglas teacher accused of leaving loaded gun in public restroom

DEERFIELD BEACH, FLA. (WSVN) - A Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School chemistry teacher has returned to class, days after he was arrested for allegedly leaving a loaded gun inside a public restroom in Deerfield Beach.

The Broward Sheriff’s Office took 43-year-old Sean Simpson into custody after, officials said, he left his Glock 43 9 mm gun inside a bathroom at the Deerfield Beach Pier on Sunday.

“He went in there to use the restroom. He did leave the gun in there, probably for about five minutes,” said BSO spokesperson Veda Coleman-Wright. ”

Deputies said Simpson left the firearm in a bathroom stall handrail, then walked out.

Moments later, investigators said, 69-year-old Joseph Spataro walked in after Simpson left, found the gun and pulled the trigger.

Beachgoers told 7News they heard gunfire.

“We were at the other end of the beach. I heard a gunshot,” said Dave Carbone. “It went off in the bathroom.

Simpson was reportedly on his way to retrieve his weapon when he heard the gunshot.

Officials said Spataro was intoxicated at the time.

“People are very careless. They shouldn’t be doing these things,” said Carbone. “I mean, with al the tragedy in the world right now, people need to be more careful.”

Investigators said the bullet hit a wall inside of the bathroom.

“This situation, to be honest with you, could have turned out very differently,” said Coleman-Wright. “Anyone could have walked into that public restroom, including a child, and they could have found that gun. Fortunately, when the gun was fired, no one was struck.”

Officials said Simpson ran back to the restroom, snatched the handgun from Spataro, who was arrested and charged with with trespassing and firing a weapon while drunk.

Simpson has been charged with failing to safely store a firearm, a second-degree misdemeanor.

Area residents said the incident underscores the need for gun owners to act responsibly. “Don’t leave you’re gun, if you’re gonna have it,” said a woman.

Simpson does have a valid concealed weapons permit.

“Legally, he was able to have the gun on him. That’s not the issue here. The issue is the fact that he left it unattended,” said Coleman-Wright. “If you’re a gun owner, you need to be responsible for that gun at all times.”

In a TV interview, Simpson expressed some interest in the idea of arming teachers.

“I know there are some of us who are willing to take the training if it was offered, and it probably would be a line of defense,” he said. “Again, that is a complicated subject, and I’m not sure if it’s the answer.”

Broward County Schools voted earlier this week that the district will not participate in a state program that would arm school employees, including some teachers.

After Sunday’s incident, those who oppose arming schoolteachers said the school board’s decision is probably the best outcome, as mistakes can happen.

“I don’t think all teachers should be allowed to carry a handgun, especially in a school,” said Tom Waz. “That’s a terrible environment to bring more guns into in the first place.”

Simpson was released from from jail on a $250 bond. It is unclear if he will face any disciplinary action from the school board.

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