On Thursday, November 17th, just before 8 a.m, 72-year-old criminal justice adjunct professor, John Carney was about to administer a test, until he walked out of his classroom in Lorber Hall to put his firearm on safety and, instead, accidentally shot himself in the leg. Luckily, there were no students or faculty nearby when it went off. Carney went back inside the classroom and asked for help from his students. The students immediately dialed 911, and one student in the class, who had just been dropped off by her father, called her father to come back since he is a law-enforcement officer. The professor was soon taken to a hospital to treat a wound to his right leg, where the bullet was lodged, and was released after a few days of recovery. Students at C.W. Post received text messages from the Public Safety Alert System as well as e-mails to inform them about what had occurred. While Carney is a retired Fire Marshall and is licensed to carry a weapon on him, C.W. Post enforces a strict no weapons policy on campus.
There are still many unanswered questions regarding the accident, including why Carney was carrying a weapon. The Pioneer reached out to Carney but was informed that he did not wish to comment to The Pioneer or to any other news media. The Pioneer then contacted the Chairperson of the Criminal Justice Department, Harvey Kushner, and he was quick to reply with “no comment” regarding the incident and the termination of Carney’s position. Public Safety was also reached and asked for comments, but The Pioneer was then referred to the campus Public Relations Office, which provided a statement by C.W. Post’s Provost, Dr. Paul Forestell – a statement that had already been sent to the students by e-mail. In the statement, Forestell emphasized that, “The University is committed to the safety and security of our campus community…C.W. Post policy explicitly prohibits the possession of firearms or other dangerous weapons on campus. We will continue to enforce these policies to ensure the safety of our campus community.”
Students at C.W. Post have voiced a range of opinions. Those who have had Carney as a professor describe him as an overall, nice man. Senior Criminal Justice major Joao Siopa was one of Carney’s students. “I think Professor Carney is a great teacher. It’s unfortunate that something like this happened at our school. I don’t really think he should be punished for what he did. It was an accident. I understand that the school has a gun policy on campus, but he’s a retired fire marshal who’s made many arrests in his career, and I’m sure he’s made a few enemies along the way.”
Similarly, graduate student of Administration Andrew Jackson said, “Professor Carney is a good guy who made a big mistake, and he went out in the hallway to try to apply the safety, so he was definitely thinking about the students’ safety.”
Junior Criminal Justice student, Freddie Schwartz was on her way to class at Lorber Hall after the accident occurred. “I drove up there around 9:20, and I had no notification. The lot was very empty, which was unusual. I saw one of my classmates, and he told me that class was canceled and about what happened. It was weird. It is sad because he was a great teacher, and I hope he is ok. I would have never known if he was carrying a gun. I don’t think he should get fired because it was an isolated incident, and he didn’t hurt anybody.”
However, there are still many who question the actions of Carney, including senior Adolescent Education major Dominique Serpico. “Why does he have a gun on him on campus?” asked Serpico. “At least hold it in a safe box in the car or something, not walking around campus or in class with it. After all these shootings at universities, you would think people would be a little more cautious. It was an unfortunate, even, and, luckily, no other people were involved.” While it is unfortunate that Post lost a professor who seemed to be very well liked by his students, Serpico affirmed that the safety of the campus comes first and that everyone, including faculty, must abide by the school’s no weapon policy. Although there have been many school tragedies that were intentional in the past, the fact of the matter is that a firearm poses as a threat to anyone because accidents, like this one, can occur at any time.