The shooting at Richneck Elementary in Newport News, Virginia, sent shockwaves across the nation, as a 6-year-old student allegedly brought his mother’s legally purchased gun to school and shot his first-grade teacher, Abby Zwerner, after an altercation. In the wake of the incident, criticism has mounted as school officials resign and the district faces a possible lawsuit.
In the hours leading up to the shooting, three different teachers and employees allegedly warned school administration that the boy had a gun on him and was threatening people, according to the teacher’s attorney. It was claimed that the administration failed to act despite having knowledge of imminent danger.
The Newport News school board voted to oust its superintendent, Dr. George Parker III, and assistant principal Dr. Ebony Parker resigned the day before. An interim superintendent has been appointed.
The 25-year-old teacher was initially in critical condition and later stabilized before being released from the hospital. The school has been closed since the shooting, with plans to return Monday.
The family of the 6-year-old student has been releasing statements through their attorney. They said their son suffers from an acute disability and was under a care plan at the school that included his mother or father attending school with him and accompanying him to class every day. The family also said that the gun allegedly used was secured before the shooting and a family member usually went to class with him, but not the week of the shooting.
Notably, the police chief has indicated the boy’s mother could possibly face charges in the shooting. Under Virginia law, it is a misdemeanor for an adult to leave a loaded, unsecured firearm in such a way that it could endanger a child under the age of 14. It is prohibited for a person to unknowingly allow a child under the age of 12 to use a firearm.
As the first day back looms, parents are understandably concerned for their children’s safety. Mark Garcia Sr., whose son is in the student’s class, said his son is still scared and wants to know he’ll be safe.
The tragedy at Richneck Elementary is yet another reminder of the urgent need to address gun violence in the US. The attorney for the teacher said that school officials had multiple warnings prior to the shooting and failed to act. It is hoped that the outcome of this situation will bring about necessary change to ensure the safety of all students and teachers in the future.