A Richneck Elementary School mother says her son ran to another classroom where he had his classmates remained on lockdown after his teacher was reportedly shot by a 6-year-old classmate.
Although police haven’t said what led to the student-teacher altercation or any other details about what happened in the classroom, citing the ongoing investigation, parent Brittany Gregory told the Washington Post that first-grade teacher Abby Zwerner had just finished reading a story and was about to start an art lesson when the child pulled out the handgun.
“She was going to confiscate it, and that’s when he shot,” Gregory said.
Another parent told a local media outlet he had previously spoken with school staff members about safety concerns prior to the shooting.
“It could have been prevented if we would have something in place for security,” Richneck parent Mark Anthony Garcia Sr. told WAVY-TV. “They have cameras out here, but number one, there were no metal detectors to go through the school. Not only were there no metal detectors there wasn’t a big security presence; security guards there. They have some there, but it’s not enough to make sure these kids are actually safe.”
Garcia also questions why Newport News Public Schools didn’t address security after two previous shootings.
In September 2021, a 16-year-old fired several shots in a busy hallway inside Heritage High School during lunchtime, injuring two 17-year-olds.
In December 2021, 18-year-old Demari Batten fatally shot 17-year-old Justice Dunham in the parking lot of Menchville High School after a football game, also within the Newport News Public Schools system.
Concurrently, 25-year-old Zwerner is being described by fellow teachers and city officials as a hard-working educator who is devoted to her students and enthusiastic about the profession that runs in her family.
“The custodians and other teachers spoke about how she’s a good teammate, she’s a team player, she loves her children, she’s just an all-around good teacher,” John Eley III, a former member of the Newport News School Board who was recently elected to the Newport News City Council, said.
Zwerner was shot Friday, with police saying she sustained life-threatening injuries. She has since improved and was last reported in stable condition at a hospital in the Newport News, Virginia area.
Police Chief Steve Drew said the shooting was not accidental and was part of an altercation. No students were injured. Police have declined to say how the boy got access to the gun or who owns the weapon.
Virginia law does not allow 6-year-olds to be tried as adults. In addition, a 6-year-old is too young to be committed to the custody of the Department of Juvenile Justice if found guilty.
A juvenile judge would have the authority, though, to revoke a parent’s custody and place a child under the purview of the Department of Social Services.
Fox News’ Sarah Rumpf and the Associated Press contributed to this report.