LOS ANGELES — Safety procedures weren’t properly followed when a student discharged a rifle mounted on a California police officer’s motorcycle, officials said Thursday.
A child at Newman Elementary School in Chino approached the rifle and pulled the trigger about 11:15 a.m. Wednesday, said Tamrin Olden, a spokeswoman for the Chino Police Department.
The AR-15 rifle was locked onto the motorcycle that was on display during a Red Ribbon Week drug-abuse prevention event, Olden said. Three students were injured.
“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.”
A statement from the Chino Police Department did not specify which policy was not properly followed. Department guidelines pertaining to patrol rifles include conditions such as: The chamber is empty; the safety is off; the rifle is stored in a locked vehicle’s rifle rack or trunk.
“The rifle was . secured in the mount on the motorcycle during the incident,” Olden said at a Wednesday evening news conference. “The child did approach the mounted rifle.”
The injured students, whose ages were not known, suffered minor injuries, Olden said. None was hit by gunfire. Two probably were struck by metal debris, resulting in “extremely minor injuries,” she said.
Police are investigating exactly how the weapon fired. Olden said “there are several fail-safes in place” to prevent a discharge, adding that one safety measure did engage.
“One fail-safe was effective in that the bullet disintegrated when discharged by striking a metal plate where the barrel rests against the weapons mount,” Olden said in a statement.
Two students were taken to a hospital with injuries not believed to be life-threatening, said Chino Valley Fire District spokeswoman Massiel Ladron De Guevara. The third student’s parents declined to have the child taken to the hospital, she said.
One student who was injured was released from the hospital Wednesday night after metal was removed from the child’s eye.