Superintendent left ‘disheartened’ and ‘in shock’ after 6-year-old shoots Virginia teacher


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The local media outlet WTKR has identified the injured teacher as Abby Zwerner, who works at Richneck Elementary School in the city of Newport News, Virginia. She is currently being closely monitored by doctors, but police have said she showed “some improvement” since the incident. 

On Saturday, George Parker, the superintendent of the school district where the incident took place, said he described himself as “disheartened” and “in shock” while speaking to reporters at a news conference.

He said the shooting has shown how “we need to educate our children and we need to keep them safe”.

He continued: “We need the community’s support, continued support, to make sure that guns are not available to youth.

“I’m sounding like a broken record today because I continue to reiterate that: that we need to keep the guns out of the hands of our young people.

“I cannot control access to weapons. My teachers cannot control access to weapons … Our students got a lesson in gun violence and what guns can do to disrupt not only an educational environment but also a family, a community.”

The shooting took place around 14:00 local time (19:00 GMT) in an elementary school classroom after an altercation occurred between the teacher and a six-year-old child. 

It’s currently unknown how the child obtained a gun, but Police Chief Steve Drew said the incident was not “an accidental shooting”. 

The six-year-old boy accused of shooting their teacher has been arrested by the police, and Chief Drew said the shooting was an isolated incident, and they “did not have a situation where someone was going around the school shooting”.

He added: “We have been in contact with [local prosecutors] and some other entities to help us best get services to this young man.”

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Associated Press has reported that Virginia law states that a six-year-old cannot be tried as an adult, and is considered too young to be placed in juvenile custody if found guilty.

However, a juvenile judge has the power in the state to take away custody from a family and put them with social services.

No one else apart from the teacher was harmed in the incident, but video footage taken after the shooting at the elementary school showed children looking scared and confused as officers investigated the area.

One local parent, Trannisha Brown, said she received a frightened call from her son at school after they heard the gunshot and said she could hear children “crying and going frantic” in the background as she comforted her son.

She said: “All they knew was that there was a shooter in the school and they didn’t know where the shooter was.”

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Phillip Jones, the Mayor of Newport News who took office just this week, said the shooting marked “a dark day” for the city.

He said: “We’re going to learn from this and we’re going to come back stronger.”

The superintendent has said that the elementary school will be closed on Monday as they address “the mental health of our staff and our students”.

Superintendent Parker has said school officials would “be looking at any instance that may have occurred that may have caused this incident”.

He added: “This is terrible, something like this should never occur, we want to ensure nothing like this happens again.”



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