Teacher shot by six-year-old student in Virginia

On January 6th, 2023, a six-year-old schoolboy in Virginia, United States, shot and seriously injured his first-grade teacher, Abigail “Abby” Zwerner, with a 9mm semi-automatic pistol that belonged to his mother.

The boy had brought the weapon to school in his backpack.

Abby Zwerner suffered life-threatening injuries as a result of the shooting, but her condition improved and she was later described as “stable” and released from the hospital in mid-January 2023.

The incident took place during a routine lesson at Richneck Elementary School in Newport News, Virginia, which had 550 students at the time of the shooting. The school remained closed for the subsequent week.

The bullet first passed through Miss Zwerner’s hand and then struck her upper chest. Police reported that the shooting was intentional and there was no struggle or warning given before the gun was discharged.

One child had reportedly told a staff member that the boy had shown him a gun, and a request to search the boy’s backpack had been made, but no weapon was found. Despite the warning, the school was not able to prevent the shooting from taking place.

In the aftermath of the incident, the school’s superintendent, George Parker, lost his job as board members voted five-to-one to remove him due to the shooting being deemed “entirely preventable.”

On that day, over the course of a few hours, three different times – three times – school administration was warned by concerned teachers and employees that the boy had a gun on him at school and was threatening people.

Diane Toscano, Abby Zwerner’s lawyer

In response to the shooting, Miss Zwerner’s lawyer, Diane Toscano, announced plans to sue the school district, arguing that the incident could have been prevented if the necessary precautions had been taken.

Timeline of events leading up to the shooting at Richneck Elementary School

  • 12:30 – A teacher searched the young boy’s backpack believing he may have had a gun. No gun was found, but the teacher reported to an official that the boy may have put the gun in his pocket before going out for a break. The official allegedly responded, “Well, he has little pockets.”
  • 13:00 – Another teacher reported that the boy had shown a child the gun and threatened to shoot him if he told. A different employee asked to search the boy and his backpack but was told to wait because the school day was almost over.
  • 14:00 – The boy pointed the gun at Miss Zwerner and fired in the middle of a lesson, police said.
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