Authorities say that a Virginia teacher, who was seriously hurt when a six-year-old student shot her, is showing signs of getting better. Abby Zwerner was shot with a handgun at Richneck Elementary School in the city of Newport News on Friday.
Her injuries are life-threatening. Mayor Phillip Jones told the BBC that Ms. Zwerner’s health was “trending in a good direction.” But he said that she was still in a very bad way after what happened.
People on social media websites sent well wishes to Ms. Zwerner, who is thought to be in her 30s. James Madison University in Virginia, where she went to school, sent “prayers and best wishes for Abby’s health and recovery.”
It is not clear how the gun got into the hands of the child, who is still in police custody. Officials said that while the school, which has about 550 students, had metal detectors, students were checked at random and not every child was inspected.
A 6 year old child brought a gun to school and shot a teacher.
It’s the guns. We have a problem with guns. Not video games. We don’t need bullet proof backpacks. We don’t need better doors.
We need to do something about the guns.
— Dylan Ogline (@DylanOgline) January 7, 2023
Police haven’t said what might have caused the incident, but Chief Steve Drew told reporters that the shooting happened after an “altercation” in a first-grade (ages 6-7) classroom and didn’t seem to be “accidental.”
Steve Gonzalez, whose child was in the classroom when the shooting happened, told Fox News that Ms. Zwerner had acted without thinking of herself after the shooting.
He said that after the bullet hit her, “she screamed at her children to run away.” Mayor Jones, who was just elected five days ago, said that police were still looking into the shooting, but that he thought the “word fight” was “legitimate and one that I would use.”
“We don’t know everything about how a six-year-old was able to handle a gun or how a six-year-old got a gun,” he said. “This is a sad day in our country’s history, and I think it’s a warning sign for the country as a whole.”
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Officers have also refused to talk about whether or not they’ve talked to the student’s parents. Under Virginia law, a six-year-old cannot be tried as an adult. If found guilty, the child would also be too young to be sent to the Department of Juvenile Justice.
But a judge could take the boy away from his parents and put him under state supervision. Chief Drew said on Saturday that police “have been in touch with our commonwealth’s attorney and some other entities to help us figure out how to best help this young man.”
On Saturday, School District Superintendent George Parker said that the shooting showed that “we need to teach our kids and keep them safe.”
This is Abby Zwerner, 25-years-old from Williamsburg, Virginia, the first grade teacher shot by a 6-year-old student in her classroom. She remains in critical condition. Parent Sebastian Gonzalez-Hernandez says Zwerner “screamed at her kids to run away” after the student shot her pic.twitter.com/FmwuithDNw
— Mike Sington (@MikeSington) January 7, 2023
“We need the community’s support, and it needs to be ongoing, to keep guns out of the hands of youth,” he said. “I know I sound like a broken record, but I keep saying that we need to keep guns out of the hands of our youth.”
Newport News is a city of about 180,000 people and is about 70 miles (112 km) south of the state capital, Richmond. Follow us on Lee Daily for more news like this.