First grade student injures teacher in Virginia school shooting

On Jan. 6, a six year old boy brought a gun to school and shot his teacher in the middle of a lesson


Jay Paul / Getty Images / TNS

A school sign wishing students a “Happy New Year” is seen outside Richneck Elementary School on Saturday, Jan. 7, 2023, in Newport News, Virginia. A 6-year-old student was taken into custody after reportedly shooting a teacher during an altercation in a classroom at Richneck Elementary School on Friday.

Tati Rubi, Staff Writer

A 6-year-old boy brought a handgun to school and shot his teacher in the middle of a lesson at Richneck Elementary School in Virginia on Jan. 6. The Virginia teacher was critically injured but is already showing signs of recovering.

The shooting at Richneck Elementary happened right before 2 p.m. on that Friday. The boy brought the gun from home and aimed it at his teacher, Abigail Zwerner. Zwerner was in the middle of teaching her class and she threw up her hands. When the shot was fired, the bullet passed and struck her in the chest. 

Virginia authorities said at a news conference on Monday that the shooting was intentional.

“She has improved and is currently listed in stable condition,” police said in a news release.

The student’s mother legally purchased the gun used in the shooting, according to Newport News police, but officials have not yet found out how the firearm was accessed. 

The 6-year-old boy is very unlikely to be charged unless an intent is found, and even if one is, Virginia law does not allow 6-year-olds to be tried as adults. He is also too young for juvenile discipline. Although, the parents might be charged with reckless endangerment or child neglect. It might even revoke the parent’s custody and place the child under the Department of Social Services. 

“While theoretically, they could charge him with a crime,” NBC News legal analyst Danny Cevallos said, “they’d have to prove that a 6-year-old was capable of forming the intent for attempted murder.”

No one was anticipating a 6 year old to get ahold of a loaded gun, but it does bring up the topic of gun control. 

“We need the community’s support … to make sure that guns are not available to youth,” Newport News Public Schools Superintendent Dr. George Parker said, “and I’m sounding like a broken record today because I continue to reiterate that: we need to keep guns out of the hands of our young people,”

He added, “Today 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.” 

An estimated three million children witness a shooting each year. Children aged five to 14 are 21 times more likely to be killed with guns. 

In 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data showed that there were 45,222 firearm related deaths in the United States which was a 13.5% increase from the year prior.