Abby Zwerner, Virginia teacher shot dead by 6-year-old student, says school 'didn't act' on warnings the boy had a gun

Abby Zwerner, Virginia teacher shot dead by 6-year-old student, says school ‘didn’t act’ on warnings the boy had a gun

A lawyer for Abby Zwernerthe first year teacher shot by a 6-year-old student earlier this month, Newport News, Va., said administrators at Richneck Elementary School received multiple warnings that the unidentified boy was armed, but “did not act” on the information.

At a press conference on Wednesday, Diane Toscano, a defense attorney representing Zwerner, said Zwerner and several other teachers made the reports on Jan. 6 — the day Zwerner was shot. The first report, Toscano said, was made between 11:15 a.m. and 11:30 a.m., when Zwerner told administrators the 6-year-old had threatened to beat up another child. The school has not acted on the report, Toscano said.

At around 12:30 p.m., a second unidentified female teacher went to school administrators and said she had searched the boy’s backpack, Toscano said, because the boy was suspected of having a gun. .

“The teacher then tells this same administrator that she thinks the boy put the gun in his pocket before going out for recess,” Toscano said. “The administration couldn’t be bothered. The administrator downplayed the teacher’s report and the possibility of a gun, saying, and I quote, ‘Well, he has small pockets.'”

Abby Zwerner
Abby Zwerner

Zwerner family


Shortly after 1 p.m., a third teacher came to administration and said another student was found crying and scared, Toscano said. The third teacher told the administration that the other student said the 6-year-old showed him the gun at recess and threatened to shoot him if he told anyone.

A fourth employee reportedly heard of the danger and asked administrators for permission to search the 6-year-old’s backpack, but was refused.

“He was told to wait for the situation to end because the school day was almost over,” Toscano said. “Tragically, nearly an hour later, violence hit Richneck Elementary School.”

Toscano also said she informed the Newport News school board that she intended to file a lawsuit on Zwerner’s behalf. She did not specify on what grounds the lawsuit would be based.

Michelle Price, director of public information for Newport News Public Schools, said that “as the school’s investigation is ongoing, I cannot comment on statements presented by Ms. Zwerner’s attorney for the moment”.

Zwerner was shot in front of her fellow first graders in an incident that police described as “intentional”. She was able to clear her class and another school employee, who Toscano said was a teacher, restrained the 6-year-old boy.


Police briefing on 6-year-old accused of shooting teacher: ‘This shooting was intentional’

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The boy brought the gun from is home, police said. His the parents said the weapon was “secured” and it is unclear how he acquired the weapon.

Zwerner was hospitalized with life-threatening injuries and has been recovering at home since January 19. Toscano said the bullet remained in Zwerner’s body and said the teacher continued to undergo surgery and physical therapy.

It’s unclear what charges, if any, the 6-year-old will face. He is currently hospitalized.

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