RIPON, CA (KOVR/CNN) - The parents of a 14-year-old are demanding answers after their son’s Junior ROTC sergeant allegedly shot him and several other students with an airsoft gun then returned from a temporary suspension following public outcry.
Debra and Don Hendricks say the Ripon High School principal called Tuesday to tell them Sgt. Robert Randall, the Junior ROTC teacher who allegedly shot their son with an airsoft gun, had returned to work.
“I was dumbfounded that they brought him back,” Don Hendricks said.
The Hendrickses found out about the alleged incident between Randall and their 14-year-old son Daniel, a freshman at the school, in December.
Daniel says he and his fellow classmates had joked around with Nerf guns, but one day, Randall showed up with an airsoft gun. The teenager described it as black and said it looked like an ordinary handgun, with the exception of a marking on the side.
“He was shooting people with it,” Daniel said. “It just felt like a flick, but then, we just went on with our day.”
But Debra Hendricks says she wasn’t willing to shrug off the incident as insignificant, especially since she says the school didn’t tell her about it until days after it happened.
"‘Your son is OK, but he was shot,’” said Debra Hendricks, recalling the phone call she received. "The immediate reaction, to me, was panic.”
Daniel’s mother says she also can’t believe the school questioned her son without her present, but in the end, she says Randall was asked to leave the school.
“I, as a mother, do not appreciate you using my son as a target, even in fun,” Debra Hendricks said.
However, following an online petition to bring Randall back, the sergeant returned to work.
The Hendrickses attempted to file a police report Tuesday afternoon, after learning Randall was back at the school, but they say officers told them it wasn’t necessary.
“We were denied the records from police,” Don Hendricks said.
Lt. Danny Sauer with the Ripon Police Department said officers looked into the alleged airsoft gun incident and quickly determined it wasn’t a criminal matter, so they let the school handle it.
“They never talked to me,” Debra Hendricks said. “I feel like my voice was never heard.”
Daniel still wants to be part of the JROTC class, but his parents aren’t sure they want him in the classroom with a reckless adult.
“They are supposed to be teaching them responsibility, and here he is, bringing something from home that he should not have,” Debra Hendricks said.
An administrator with the Ripon Unified School District declined to comment on personnel matters.