No Charges Against School Officer

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SOUTH CANAAN TOWNSHIP -- A school police officer in Wayne County whose gun went off in the high school last week will not face charges, according to the prosecutor who looked into the case and said the officer was cleaning his gun at the time.

Western Wayne School Police Officer Paul Semler is still off the job without pay after that incident last week inside his office at the high school.

Newswatch 16 has learned that while the officer won't face charges, the investigation found that Semler and the assistant principal had the same gun so the officer was showing him how to clean it when it fired.

Students dismissed from Western Wayne High School more than a week after a gun went off inside an office.

The gun belonged to School Police Officer Paul Semler, a retired state trooper, and last Wednesday the Wayne County District Attorney started an investigation.

Now, Semler won't face charges since the bullet went through his desk and into the floor while he was cleaning it.

"At no point was the weapon aimed at any person or in any direction of any people in or around the office," said Wayne County District Attorney Janine Edwards.

Western Wayne School Board member A.J. Gaudenzi said Officer Semler should not have been cleaning a gun at the school in the first place.

"We`re going to have to take a look at the policies when it comes to handling your firearm inside the school. Because first and foremost it`s about the safety of the children and the safety of the employees as well," said Gaudenzi.

Pat Rivera was waiting outside the Western Wayne High School to pick up her daughter and said officers should carry guns but be more careful.

Officer Semler was showing the assistant principal how to clean the gun because both men have the same firearm, but the bullet was still in the chamber, according to the investigative report from the district attorney. A portion of the report was obtained by Newswatch 16.

"I think they should have left that out of school, if they wanted to discuss what guns they had and what they were doing with them, that`s not a place to do it in school," said Rivera.

Western Wayne Superintendent Clay LaCoe said it's now a personnel matter and Semler remains suspended without pay.

As for Semler, the school board will have the final say whether he stays on the job.

"We`ll discuss the future, mistakes do occur, I don`t think anyone can deny that," said Gaudenzi.

The Western Wayne School Board could bring up the issue as soon as Monday's meeting.



  • scranton boy

    There is only one way for any of us to know what really happened that day – find a way to get a copy of the report that was filed with the DA and read it. If the school was given a copy of it, maybe we can get a copy, too. All of this speculation does nothing but fuel the fire of conspiracy theories and cover-ups. And remember – just because the media reports something doesn’t mean it is the complete truth.

  • number 34

    Once again another “I really know what happened so let me be heard” Go tell the DA what really happened and then he can be charged

  • Charles Lee Ray

    He Probably was not cleaning he was messing around with it. a gun just does not go off . He should be charged with that felony.

  • Concerned Parent

    Right now, the officer is suspended without pay. What about the school administrator that asked him to take out his gun on school grounds? Is he being suspended, reprimanded, written up, in any way? Why is he not having pay docked just as the officer is? I see TWO guilty parties in this. What kind of a school administrator asks for a weapon to be brought out inside their school? Whether it was seemingly harmless or not, both are adults and KNEW better. BOTH should be punished accordingly.

  • Dyberry Dweller

    It’s amazing the stuff you can get away with when you’ve got a badge.

    If a normal citizens gun goes off accidentally near a school or if they even possess one on the property (I’m not saying inside a building at all either) the person would he charged and fined heavily but a former cop can have his go off in a school and it’s, eh whatever he didn’t mean it…What a joke!

    I normally like Janine Edwards (DA) but she screwed this one up all to make the PSP happy…ridiculous.

  • Pistol Pete

    Wonder who actually touched off the round when they were playing with the gun, was it the officer or was it the assistant principal? Only two people will ever know. Not like it matters, it was a total collapse in good judgement and conduct…the “retired” trooper knows better in handling his weapon and live ammo, period!!

    • number 34

      Why is there always a conspiracy. Why can’t the whole thing be what it was told. Why is there always other accusations. Sometimes S $!!! happens

      • Pistol Pete

        Said nothing of a “conspiracy”…posed a question. Yeah you’re right, s &$# does happen….but NOT when a so called trained expert discharges a pistol in a school with kids. Period. That’s firearms safety 101. That is what happens when you get too “comfortable”. Bottom line, there is NO excuse! If a kid took a round to the head, would you then say “s&*$ happens? I think not.

    • Me and Mine

      Why do people put police officers up on some sort of pedestal like they are some sort of super human. The only difference between the officer and the AP is the courses they chose in collage. Both should be treated the same in the eyes of the law. But no, give him a free pass.

  • BZ22

    So the School Police Officer and the Assistant Principal had nothing better to do during their work day than one showing the other how to clean a gun? Yes, it’s school but that lesson shouldn’t be on the taxpayer’s dime! Just like kids, they thought no one would ever know!!

  • Pizzedoff Parent

    Should make for an interesting school board meeting on Monday, they better get more chairs out. I’ll be there, as a parent of a student that attends the WWHS I feel I need to and address the board. I don’t feel this individual should be reinstated after this irresponsible incident and they should initialize a different standard for officers and live rounds in the chamber inside the school.

      • number 34

        How about find the statistics on officers firing off a round either on the range on their stations in their vehicles in classroom in their own home garage backyard or any other place you can think of when they were not supposed too.

      • number 34

        most if not all PDS handle this issue a issue and it is reviewed internally Unless an injury occurred

      • pay back

        Ya if I had the opportunity to investigate myself every time I made a mistake and put forth a report I’d look like Jesus too

  • copernicus

    Pay back not bad for a whiner. but were you not the one that complained about lowering yourself with name calling. My skin is very thick like your skull. So keep it coming

    • pay back

      I don’t name call sticking to the issues that a school cop could have killed someone by his stupidity and not held in anyway accountable is the real issue here. ..not a miss spelled word or dogging ones opinion because it’s not yours!

  • Lloyd Schmucatelli

    Well, I can see that WNEP’s thumbs up / down program is broken on this article. I’m use to thumbs down, but there are plenty of good posts, from other people, in response to this article with a tremendous amounts of thumbs down. I call shenanigans.

    • copernicus

      Are they good posts or stupid comments from jackals that want their 5 minutes of time. Show me the good posts. That seem like they made a valid point

      • pay back

        Aww coperanus can’t you see I’m just trying to keep a fun blog going .don’t take it so personal and try to get your desk work done. You’ll work your way up the ranks soon enough

      • BZ22

        Most are stupid comments with less than a middle school mentality! If these are adults making these comments, then we shouldn’t question why children act like they do with examples like this!

  • PG

    Mr. Semler is a former PSP trooper.. I would think that he should be well versed on handling a weapon. I don’t see how he is not being charged in this incident. What would give Mr. Semler the idea that it was the time & place to clean his weapon in school. The schools’ assistant principle wanted to know how to clean his weapon that was similar.. Really in a school office!!!!! The assistant principle should be suspended for being stupid on that basis alone. Obviously Mr. Semler needs a refresher course on handling and clearing a weapon. He is suppose to be a professional but it appears to more of a circus act.

  • Jw

    That’s great let’s interview the board member that got a DUI and still on the board, makes me sick to be a graduate of WW because of the corruption and nobody can get a straight answer and seems like all lies and cover ups!

  • pay back

    If you have a CDL license your held to a higher driving standard .if only our pa puppets were expected to follow the same(higher standards of the law)

  • Lloyd Schumcatelli

    What really happened is he probably had some cheerleader in his office and she was playing with it and they are trying to cover it up.

    • copernicus

      Hey load keep your stupid f#\&& comments to yourself. If you know what happened then you should call the Wayne Co DA and come forward as a a nitwit I mean witness

  • Lloyd Schumcatelli

    If you are carrying a weapon to protect the public, ESPECIALLY SCHOOL CHILDREN, you need to be extremely well trained. This is a rookie mistake for a trained professional. I’m sorry, but this is unacceptable. You sir, are an idiot. I’ve been hunting and around guns since I was 10 years old. Unloading weapons is the first move you make. Why wouldn’t you clean this weapon at home? All this is is a saving face move. It you were truly cleaning it, you should be relieved of duty for incompetence.

    • Larry Bagadonuts

      LLOYD, I’m sure your dad was schooled in the proper use of condoms. But..even he apparently, and with all his training, let at least one slip past the goalie. Should he have been relieved ?? Also to play out your fantasies of being with a cheerleader and insinuate that’s what the Officer was doing isn’t worthy of consideration. What’s laughable is that only ONE other person was there yet everyone else seems to know what “really” happened. LOL

  • The truth you don't want to hear.

    Safety off, gun loaded and decided to clean it IN SCHOOL? How about we take the guns away from the police and save the public. No charges from the DA? BIG SURPRISE. Corruption and double standards at its finest.

  • Zeker

    The DA said no charges would be filed because he wasn’t pointing the gun at anyone and the bullet didn’t hit anyone………..uhh,.so if it did then he’d be charged? Most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. If Someone gets pulled over while driving drunk…they get cited, why?…because it’s reckless and endangering the public. This was a huge near miss, the retired trooped breached conduct by playing with live rounds. Cleaning it, come on sheeple. The reason he wasn’t charged is that he is a retired trooper, from the Honesdale Barracks, DA is from Honesdale, oh yeah – that’s how it works. Not a shock.

  • Western Wayne Mom

    Are you serious, He’s not going to be charged. First off why would you clean a loaded gun in a school full of kids. What would of happened if someone walked into his office and got injured. How do these kids feel safe since he has know idea what he is doing or when the gun goes off. If this was a student they would be expelled, and have crimal charges against them but I guess the law can get away with it and have nothing done and think it’s ok. It wasn’t the time or the place for it and something needs to be done.

  • dm

    I didn’t read anything in either article that the officer was cleaning his firearm at the time it discharged. This leads me to believe he had the safety off.

  • pay back

    If this idiot isn’t gonna be charged (which is a joke. Reckless indangerment at least) for our children’s sake take his firearm and give him a wooden gun!

  • pay back

    Everybody is missing the real issue here. He discharged a firearm not only in an occupied structure ( which is a felony ) but in a school ! And no charges? I want a badge too.

    • spell check

      the “DIFFENCE” is the spelling. Unless it knowingly, intentionally, recklessly or negligently it’s not a felony fro discharging a weapon in an occupied structure


        Felony child endangerment is a child endangerment charge enhanced by aggravating circumstances. Child endangerment occurs when a person engages in conduct that places a child in immininet danger of death, bodily injury, or physical or mental impairment. This can be through an act or omission

        If you did this in your home, with your children home, you can bet you would be charged with something!!!! This clown does it inside a school, and no laws broken???? Wow……

  • coffee

    The “officer” should be fired, not only for discharging his weapon inadvertently but also for fabricating the story about cleaning his weapon.

  • Reuben

    Of all people carrying firearms you would expect law enforcement personnel to be extra vigilant to make sure their weapon is empty before cleaning it. This type of carelessness is unacceptable.

    • Chef Tell

      That’ right Reuben..even as a sandwich you know that sometimes you burn the toast, even as an “expert”. Being an officer doesn’t prevent accidents. Handling firearms as much as one does only increases the possibility of a discharge. If we follow your logic than racecar drivers should never wreck. They should know better

  • My Dog Is Smarter Than You

    I’ve been hunting and sport shooting since I’m 10 years old. I also served 12 years with the United States Army. Suffice it to say that I have cleaned various types of weapons hundreds, if not thousands, of times. I have NEVER worked on or cleaned a loaded weapon. Me thinks the officer could benefit from Gun Safety Fundamentals 101.

    • Ford

      Better question might be – Do they clean their firearms while still loaded? If someone is unsure on how to clean/operate a gun, maybe they should get some additional training.

    • Take responsibility

      Why not? It’s part of their job to maintain the equipment. That shouldn’t be the issue, the issue should be that he cleans it carefully and safely.

      • Bulldinkies

        Carefully and safely means ensuring it is unloaded first, NOT rocket science…especially from a “trained professional” seasoned veteran of law enforcement. NO excuses…period. Makes one inclined to believe the fuzzy blanket offered to the public that “he was cleaning it” falls under the same category as the Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny and Santa Claus.

    • copernicus

      If the actual number of times an officer discharged their weapon unintentionally was kept as a statistic the # would be unbelievable let alone the general public. No excuses just failure to follow procedure and focus on task

      • pay back

        But in all honesty .if an officer “unintentionally discharged his weapon it’s a oppsie. If a citizen unintentionally discharge a firearm an officer wants to charge him/her with everything they can! Getting back to this double standard word I see everyday on these blogs

      • pay back

        I don’t care about thumbs up/ thumbs down. If your right your right. Got to be blind not to see a government take over

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