Things That Matter

A Substitute Teacher In New York City Was Arrested After Threatening To Shoot His Unruly Students: ‘I Have a Gun’

via Getty Images

We all have memories of pushing our teachers a little too far when we were kids. And when we had substitute teachers, our behavior was exponentially worse. And recently, one New York City substitute teacher had had enough of his students’ behavior and ended up making a terrifying threat.

On Wednesday, Queens substitute teacher Alejandro Rocha told his middle school students: “If you won’t do as you’re told, I’m gonna shoot you — and yes, I have a gun.”

The incident happened during art class at Intermediate School 5 in the Maspeth neighborhood Queens, New York. Later, according to the New York Daily News, Rocha confessed to his supervisor that he “made a bad call”. “I made a joke that I shouldn’t have said,” he told him. He says that he told his supervisor in case it was “blown out of proportion” by the students.

A little over four hours later, Rocha was arrested and charged with making a “terroristic threat”. But Rocha insists that it was an inappropriate joke and that he wasn’t serious. No students reportedly complained about the joke.

“I didn’t even yell,” Rocha told the New York Daily News. “I’m so used to the kids, I joke around with them. I made a remark that I shouldn’t have said. And the class went on as normal. It’s like when people say, ‘I’m going to throw you out the window,’ but they don’t actually mean it. I was just joking!”

Considering the epidemic of school shootings that America is facing, Rocha’s “joke” was no laughing matter.

As soon as the Department of Education heard about Rocha’s behavior, the 52-year-old was immediately let go. “This is absolutely unacceptable,” said a DOE spokesperson in a statement. “The substitute teacher was immediately suspended and if this deeply disturbing allegation is found to be true, he will be fired.”

Rocha spent the night in lockup but the prosecutors dropped the charges against him on Thursday. He never even saw a judge. “According to them, it’s as if it never happened,” Rocha told the New York Daily News. “But in the meantime, that’s not the truth. It did happen. My [teaching] license was suspended. I’m not able to access the website that allows me to find [teaching] jobs. My TLC license to work for Uber got suspended, and I have to go to a hearing.”

The Colombian substitute teacher has been teaching since 2001 and has no prior disciplinary history.

Now, he says, he wants to fix his mistakes. “My intention is to clear this up,” he said. “Hopefully I can fix this and get back to work.”

If he does end up getting back to work, we hope he never makes a joke about shooting his students again.

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com