A 21-year-old man was arrested and charged with a felony Thursday evening after he fired a gun inside a community college classroom and injured three people, police said.

Clayton Whatley, 21, of League City, was charged with unlawful carrying of weapon in an institute of higher education, according to the Texas City Police Department.

The charge is a third-degree felony, Texas City Police Department spokesman Cpl. Allen Bjerke said. Whatley did not have a license to carry a handgun, Bjerke said.

Whatley was attending a police cadet training class at the College of the Mainland in Texas City on Thursday evening, police said. He was one of 25 members of the class, College of the Mainland spokeswoman Ruth Rendon said.

The shooting happened after the class had completed calisthenics, Rendon said.

Whatley reached into his backpack to retrieve an item and accidentally pulled the trigger of a loaded handgun he was carrying in the backpack, police said.

The gun fired a single bullet, police said. One person was grazed by the bullet, and two other people were injured by apparent shrapnel after it hit the floor, police said.

Two of the injured people were taken to the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, where they were treated and released. The third person was treated at the scene.

Whatley was arrested at the scene and was being held at the Texas City Jail on $5,000 bond on Friday, police said. He was scheduled to be transferred to the Galveston County Jail, police said.

In 2015, Texas legislators approved a new law that allows licensed gun holders to carry concealed weapons on college campuses — with limited exceptions. The law does not allow unlicensed gun owners to carry handguns on school campuses.

Whatley was still enrolled at the College of the Mainland on Friday, Rendon said. School officials were expected to review the incident in coming days, she said.

As part of the school’s police officer training program, cadets are required to agree not to carry a weapon, Rendon said.

“As cadet, you cannot carry, that’s a school policy,” Rendon said. “They sign off that they know the rules and agree to it.”

The College of the Mainland offers a peace officer academy program, where students are trained in the basics of being a police officer and are prepared to take the state’s licensing exam for police officers.

Whatley is not a cadet for any specific police department, Bjerke said.

John Wayne Ferguson: 409-683-5226; john.ferguson@galvnews.com or on Twitter @johnwferguson.


(4) comments

Rusty Schroeder

Good thing the Pony Express is not delivering the news these days.... smh.

Rusty Schroeder

So he was charged with a misdemeanor for a 3rd degree felony ?

Mark Johnson

I think the felony is the weapons charge and the misdemeanor is the stupidity charge.

Rusty Schroeder

Hard to argue that :)

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