St. John's Prep
Courtesy St. John's Prep
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From the AP . . .

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.

Detective Officer Chris Gaffney Danvers Police Department
Detective Chris Gaffney (courtesy LinkedIn)

“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.

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    • apparently you missed this part…”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,”

      Even a firearm with a safety (not trigger) that was not in the safe position would fire it the trigger was engaged by “a secondary piece of equipment” pulling the trigger while re-holstering.

      This has nothing to do with ‘trigger safety’. It has to do with the trigger being pulled because the trigger was pulled because the user was ‘careless’ in not ensuring the trigger was not pulled by “a secondary piece of equipment”.

      • You think that ”a secondary piece of equipment interfered with the holstering process” is a cover for “I shouldn’t have had my finger on the trigger?”

        • lol…thats kinda what I’m thinking. the “secondary piece of equipment” was the finger. I’m thinking he had his finger on the trigger, tried to re-holster and pulled the trigger by his finger being jammed between the holster and trigger while trying to jam the gun in the holster pushing the finger back against the trigger.

        • Secondary piece of equipment interfered……his brain fart…… Don’t try this at home folks. He’s a trained professional.

      • He SAID it was caused by a secondary piece of equipment. Detectives don’t normally wear a belt full of shit like a patrol cop so, what “secondary” piece of equipment was this “Detective” carrying that interfered with his ability to safely holster his weapon? Danvers is not exactly a bustling hub of criminal activity; might even be the first time this guy ever pulled his gun outside of a range environment… Yes, I AM suggesting that the cop MIGHT have screwed up and then LIED about it, not that a cop would lie to cover his own ass, but it did get him a couple of PAID days off… Just sayin’…

        • Worn in leather holster with enough flex at the top to get in the way? Haven’t heard about that error in years but it used to be a more common one.

      • One reholsters with the safety engaged, on a firearm so equipped. Secondary piece of equipment could well have been his shirt.

        • Secondary piece of equipment could well have been his shirt.

          Wouldn’t that have been described as an article of clothing… How can your shirt cause a negligent discharge unless it’s wrapped around your index finger…

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  1. Well it sounds Glockish and it sounds like that dingus thingy in the trigger failed. As I have said with objection from the Rambo wannabes, that thingy is not a “safety” like I have seen incompetents point to it and describe it for other incompetents.

    At least this AD was reported, there are lots of others with similar stories but their lips are sealed.

    If you understand Glock what-ifs you chamber carry with a plug behind the trigger. Pops out faster than disengaging a manual safety.

    • “that dingus thingy in the trigger” is a freaking joke. Stupid people doing stupid stuff won’t be saved by a 100mil spacing on either side of your trigger.

    • Don’t know about your “Rambo wannabes” but I’ve carried a Glock daily for over twenty years in condition one and have NEVER experienced an AD (aka NEGLIGENT discharge)… If you lack the experience or confidence in your ability to carry a piece like the Glock and you require an external safety that is your problem, but you don’t have to be a fucking “Rambo wannabe” to carry a Glock, you just need to know what you’re doing… That “thingy” IS a safety, you cannot engage the striker WITHOUT engaging that “thingy” in the middle (it’s called an integrated trigger safety for a reason) which is why I question the “Detectives” version of events… I get it if you don’t like Glock that’s your business, but ANY gun can be subject to an Negligent discharge if not handled properly… FYI; this cop was carrying a Sig…

  2. I don’t know about anyone else but I can’t reholster with my finger along the slide. There isn’t enough room for my finger as the gun goes in. My finger has to be up, off and away.

    Does this department have wide-legged JNCO holsters or something?

    • Shire-man, it seems only natural for the finger along the slide to slip over the outside of the holster as the gun is being reholstered. Since the finger along the slide can’t fit in the holster with the gun then it seems only natural for the finger to slip over the outside of the holster. Over time “up and away” will become routine.
      The gun and the finger are not going in the holster together, so not much other choices remaining.

  3. He says “secondary piece of equipment” instead of saying what it is? What idiot dreams up this BS lingo?

    • RGP, that is correct. He said it was a secondary piece of equipment which means he knew which piece of equipment caused the discharge. Wonder why the secondary piece of equipment was not identified and named so that others could take note/caution?

  4. I’ll give the officer the benefit of the doubt and allow his story of the trigger being caught on secondary equipment. Sure it was. Damn fool is lucky he didn’t shoot himself in the foot.
    And this is the highly trained professional that should be the only person with access to firearms? Hell, the janitor or a cook could have done as well in checking things out and likely wouldn’t have shot a hole in the floor.
    Now, I don’t have a problem with officers patrolling the schools. And for the most part, a cop should be the person who responds to a possible shooter etc. But, allowing those who wish to and are willing to take a basic security/firearms safety course should be allowed to do so.
    Lastly, whoever called in the false report may think it’s funny, or was just screwing with the school for some reason. But they, if caught, should face as severe a punishment as the law allows. Causing the panic, and locking down a school needlessly is not a joke or prank. A student or employee could be inadvertently injured or even killed if someone makes a mistake or a kid being a kid pops around a corner or out of a door unexpectedly.

    • Unless it was an ACTIVE shooter incident the cops should NOT have had their firearms drawn anyway…

  5. I’ve always liked the NRA use of the term “reluctantly” in the phrase “Reluctantly holster the firearm”

    If you’re holstering, the threat is over. If the threat is over, speed is not needed whatsoever. Slowly lower the firearm in to the holster and if you feel any resistance, STOP!

    At matches, I see about 95% of people slam their firearm into the holster as if the timer is still running.

  6. This story caused me to examine how I re-holster, step-by-step. Since my EDC is a Sneaky Pete, my thumb lifts the flap, my middle-finger ring finger, and pinky press the gun against my palm. while my trigger finger is not on the gun at all.

    • A “Sneaky Pete” holster, or one of those belt packs that looks like a large cell phone case, that they’ve been advertising in gun mags? I’ve been considering one (of those pack things).

      • No Name

        Exactly so. I have several. Fast draw. Gun folk recognize what it is, but most others just think you are carrying a large phone. The leather stays good looking with minimal care. The ballistic nylon tends to fray.

      • Man, I have one. It is a good way to conceal but quick access in a situation is difficult at best.

        • Any more difficult than clearing a covering garment or two, and digging into the waistband to grab your pistol?

        • Yesd, Man. much more difficult. It seems you have to hold the flap of the Sneaky Pete up and out of the way, when you draw the pistol. You see that flap is in the way of a quick draw. Incidentally, do you have a Sneaky Pete?

  7. I have been saying for years that police are poorly trained in regard to their firearms. Many barely qualify and other than going to the range to qualify almost NEVER practice.

  8. Clearly this “secondary piece of equipment” is either dangerous in and of itself or was not properly used, in either case the Danvers P.D. should immediately stop using this “secondary piece of equipment” or begin a retraining program for Det. Gaffney.

    That Det. Gaffney was given ‘time on the beach’ is indicative that the fault does not lie with “secondary piece of equipment”.

    • I keep my “secondary” piece of equipment OUT of the trigger guard until I’m on target and ready to fire…

  9. “…A police officer accidentally negligently fired his gun…”

    Gosh, I hate copy-editing AP articles on firearms…it seems to be a full-time job.

    Since we all have our theories on the “secondary piece of equipment” I’m throwing in my guess: he was wearing tactical gloves, which he had never worn before, and the thickness / seam of the glove caught the trigger and “Dear Chief, no one was more surprised than I when the following happened…” was the result.

      • You must have a special laptop. Picture is B&W both on my 6 month old HP laptop screen AND the LG 42 inch 4K tv that I use as a monitor… Also B&W on my iPhone 14… Dans little mugshot is in glorious full blown color as is the picture of the school, so I’m pretty sure it’s not my devices… Photo of the cop must have been pulled from a news article or from cop school graduation…

        • The black and white photo makes him look a little looney tunes.
          Of course he was younger then.

        • Oops. “Photo of the policeman.” My mistake. Didn’t scroll down before response.

  10. What kind of safety does the trigger safety “thingy” actually provide? It seems to me if the trigger gets pressed (by anything, purposely or not) then the thingy is almost assuredly gonna be pressed as well. Ive never really understood it. Can anyone shed any light here?

    • In the instance of some cop holstering his/her firearm and “accidentally” coming in contact with a “secondary” piece of equipment on the side of the trigger it will prevent the engagement of the striker… If, however, you happen to have your index finger wrapped around the trigger (or anywhere inside the trigger guard) it will, if bumped hard enough still allow a “negligent” discharge as will ANY firearm that is in condition one… It’s important to note that that little trigger safety “thingy” MUST be fully depressed to allow the trigger to function… Standard trigger pull weight on a Glock is 5.5 pounds (up to 12 pounds for cops), it would take more than incidental contact with a secondary piece of gear to fire that weapon, whatever made that firearm discharge would have had to cover at least 3/4 of the trigger on a Glock with ample force to cause it to fire… Hope that helps explain that for you…

      • Thanks for reply. It seems like it wouldn’t prevent much, but i guess even the .00001% it might is important enough considering what it could prevent.
        Dont know if i worded that right but hopefully you get my drift.

    • The trigger blade safety is actually a drop safety. If the pistol is dropped on the back of its slide from high enough, it’s possible for the inertia to depress the trigger. The blade safety prevents that.

  11. I’ll bet his ill-fated reholstering caused all the rest of the LE on scene to draw their weapons and poop a little in their shorts.

  12. I remove completely all the elastic cords and plastic push button locks from the bottom of all my jackets for exactly this reason. They seem to get in the way, and once they do, that round sliding lock fills the trigger guard space. Not saying this is what caused the discharge in this particular case; more like speculation.

  13. I’ve carried in the Army and civilian world since 1985. I have certainly unholstered and re-holstered a loaded pistol well over a thousand times. This includes in many tactical environments. I have never had a negligent discharge. Because I use safeties, I clear the path from the gun to the holster, I look as I holster to be sure the path is clear, and I damn sure never, ever have a finger inside the trigger guard.

    I’ve carried 1911’s, M9’s, Sig P320’s and P365’s, G19’s …. One thing is key to preventing these things … NOTHING gets inside the trigger guard during the holstering process. NOTHING. Especially not your booger hook.

    • But the trigger guard is where I tie my string.
      Maybe that’s why I always think somebody is shuting at me?

  14. Not that I am defending the officer involved here, but unless one is in a job which involves the carrying of a sidearm on a daily basis and which only gets drawn under very stressful circumstances outside of re-qualification range time, I would not be casting stones here.
    The vast majority of the posters here, outside of the “high speed operators” may carry on a daily basis, but I suspect that the holsters used are the open top passive retention type. Duty holsters are complex in design which require manipulation to draw and reholster because of the dangers of someone grappling with you going for the weapon. You should all look at a Gould & Goodrich double retention duty holster for a revolver.
    Personally, when I was at my firearms qualification, I finished shooting a string on my target and I went to reholster my Glock in my Bladetech Kydex duty holster. I got called out by the instructor because I did something “funny”. I started shooting with IPSC and IDPA and I had formed a habit of placing my index finger on the slide, and my middle finger in front of the trigger in order to verify that my muzzle was lined up with the top of my quick draw holster and that nothing “secondary” would engage the trigger as I slide the weapon into the holster.
    Apparently, the instructor said that it was an unsafe practice and outside the norm for training that would go on my record so I stopped doing it. Honestly, this all involves the development of muscle memory and that can only be achieved with a whole lot of practice. Personally, I think that everyone including police need to spend time not just shooting but also on drawing and re-holstering their carry weapon.

    • unless one is in a job which involves the carrying of a sidearm on a daily basis and which only gets drawn under very stressful circumstances outside of re-qualification range time, I would not be casting stones here.

      Not a cop and my job (retired, relaxing, enjoying the fruits of my labor) does not REQUIRE that I carry a firearm, however I DO carry daily, and I have carried a concealed firearm daily for nearly 50 years and yes, the ONLY times (outside of the range) that I EVER pulled my firearm was in stressful situations… I have never experienced a “negligent” discharge including my six and a half years in the USMC and three combat tours in Vietnam (talk about a stressful situation) I think the cop fucked up and I think he lied and was backed up by his superiors, he’s had 11 years to develop “muscle memory”. Bottom line, I don’t care that the cop made a mistake and I am glad no one was injured, but I’m troubled by his failure to take responsibility for his fuck up AND the cover up provided by the other cops and his superiors…

  15. Tow observations
    ONE THe man’s an if diot! Who puts qa bloody handgun into a HOLSTER cocked and saftety off> SZ Whip his aqrse and send him back to school for a year on no bloody pay Ifthis happened to one of our ARMED RESPONSE OFFICERS in the UK he’s never pickup a firearm again
    TWO, Why the hell do you have bathroom’s in schools? I can understand a shower or two but BATHROOMS?? Who takes a bloody BATH at school?

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