DANVERS, Mass. — A police officer accidentally fired his gun inside a school bathroom earlier this week while trying to holster the weapon, escalating the law enforcement response for what turned out to be a hoax school shooting, authorities in Massachusetts said.
Some students at St. John's Prep in Danvers ran into the nearby woods while panicked parents rushed to the school on Monday after a report of someone with a gun on campus. No one with a gun was found and no one was hurt.
At first, four officers went to the school after police received a report that someone with a long gun was in a bathroom at the all-boys Catholic school, the town said via Facebook on Thursday.
Three officers entered a bathroom to look for possible threats. As they left, Detective Christopher Gaffney, an 11-year department veteran, started holstering his gun, the statement said.
“The officer reported that as he did, his index finger was extended along the side of the barrel, which is consistent with his training, and that a secondary piece of equipment interfered with the holstering process, resulting in a single shot being discharged and striking the bathroom tile floor next to the officer’s foot," the statement said.
No students or school personnel were in the bathroom.
The sound of gunfire elevated the response to an actual active shooter situation, authorities had said Monday.
Gaffney was not placed on administrative leave but was given some time off, Town Manager Steve Bartha told The Salem News. An email was sent to Bartha on Friday.
The investigation is ongoing, including into who made the hoax call. Once the internal investigation is complete, the town will request an independent review by the district attorney’s office, the town's statement said.