POCATELLO – The Idaho State University instructor who accidentally shot himself in the foot Tuesday has been identified as Byron Bennett, an assistant professor of chemistry.
Bennett was giving a lecture Tuesday when a small caliber pistol that he was carrying in his pocket discharged. The incident occurred in the Physical Science Complex at 785 South Eighth Avenue just before 4 p.m. ISU Public Safety and the Pocatello police responded to the scene.
According to police reports, Bennett possesses a current Idaho Enhanced Concealed Weapons Permit, an Idaho Basic Concealed Weapons Permit and a Utah Concealed Weapons Permit.
There were about 20 students in the classroom when the weapon discharged, but the gun was never displayed and no one, but Bennett was injured.
Investigators are in the process of identifying and interviewing all students who were in the classroom when the accident occurred.
Bennett has taught at ISU since 2007.
ISU Spokeswoman Adrienne King said an administrative review might be called for as well following completion of the police investigation.
King said officials assessed the situation Tuesday and quickly determined that it was an isolated incident. However if anyone on campus had been in imminent danger, a campus-wide alert would have been sent out.
The campus-wide warning system was tested in July, King said.
Bennett earned his doctorate in organometallic chemistry at the University of Wyoming in 1997. He has 24 publications to his credit and he collaborated with 37 co-authors between 1995 and 2010. Bennett has also been cited by 159 authors, according to Academic Search.
He also taught at Daytona Beach Community College and the University of Nevada Las Vegas.
Following the incident Tuesday, Bennett was treated and released at Portneuf Medical Center.
He declined to comment about the accident Wednesday.
Last year, the Idaho Legislature passed a law that allows persons with enhanced concealed carry permits, which require additional firearms training, to pack weapons on Idaho campuses, the law went into effect July 1.
In compliance with the law, ISU trained and armed its Public Safety officers and developed a policy to address the campus carry law.
President Arthur Vailas was among a number of university presidents and law enforcement officials who opposed the campus carry law.
Vailas said Wednesday that the past is the past and ISU is in compliance with the new law and the incident Tuesday was an unfortunate accident.
According to ISU’s policy regarding weapons on campus, concealed weapons can be carried anywhere on the university campus with the exception of all dormitories, campus apartment buildings, Albion Hall, the College of Education, Holt Arena, Reed Gymnasium, Davis Field, the Stephens Performing Arts Center, the Lillibridge Engineering Building, the RISE Center on Alvin Ricken Drive, the CAES Building in Idaho Falls and the Meridian campus.
Carrying of weapons in these areas may result in criminal charges and/or temporary or permanent exclusion from the university.
ISU physicist Majid Khalaf said the incident demonstrates that guns on campus is a bad idea and student Randi Leissring agreed.
“It’s probably going to happen again,” Leissring said.
Taylor Hansen of Chubbuck is a freshman at ISU and she said in response to the new law, her parents plan to buy her a gun.
“I’m a girl and I’m little,” Hansen said. “But I’m going to take some safety courses so I don’t shoot myself in the foot.”
In spite of the accidental shooting Tuesday, Max MacClure, a senior at ISU, said he still supports the campus carry law.
MacClure said he was in the building when the shooting took place, but he did not hear the shot.
“I think accidents happen. One accident doesn’t mean it’s a bad law,” MacClure said.
The shooting is still under investigation.