Virginia Teacher shot by 6-year-old says admins were warned ‘3 times’ on day of shooting
Despite being shot, Abby Zwerner evacuated her students to safety.
Content warning: Discussion of (suicidal ideation/eating disorders/domestic abuse/other tough topics) ahead.
Abby Zwerner, a first grade teacher shot by a student earlier this month at Richneck Elementary School in Newport News, Virginia is taking legal action against the school, according to CBS News.
Zwerner’s attorney, Diane Toscano, says that multiple attempts were made to school administrators by teachers warning them about the 6-year-old but ultimately none of their warnings were taken seriously.
In a news conference that took place on Wednesday, January 25, the defense lawyer shared the details about the warnings that school officials were given. Zwerner, along with several other teachers, all made reports on January 6, the day of the shooting, concerning the 6-year-old boy.
Toscano says the first report was made as early as sometime between 11:15am and 11:30am. This is the report Zwerner made because the first grader threatened to beat up another student. But, no action was taken. Around noon, another teacher filed a separate report with school administrators about searching the first grader’s backpack because he was suspected of having a gun. Still, no action was taken by administrators.
“The teacher then tells that same administrator that she believes the boy put the gun in his pocket before he went outside for recess,” Toscano explains. “The administration could not be bothered. The administrator downplayed the report from the teacher and the possibility of a gun, saying, and I quote, ‘Well, he has little pockets.'”
Just before 1pm another teacher approached administrators and reported that a student was found crying and scared because the first grader showed his gun during recess and threatened the child if they told anyone.
That’s three teachers making reports to administrators about a possible gun on campus and yet nobody did anything. That is absolutely outrageous. The tragedy of the Uvalde shooting was sudden and horrific. But this, this sounds like it could have been prevented. On a school campus where the safety of the children should be of utmost concern, it doesn’t sound like school administrators cared at all.
Related: This viral TikTok about prepping for active shooter drills is a new, heartbreaking back-to-school reality
If that weren’t enough, Toscano recounts that a fourth employee also reported the same child. The fourth adult heard about the potentially dangerous situation and asked for permission to search the child’s backpack but was denied.
He was told to wait the situation out, because the school day was almost over,” Toscano says. “Tragically, almost an hour later, violence struck Richneck Elementary School.”
The Newport News school board has been informed that there will be a lawsuit filed against them by Diane Toscano, on behalf of Abby Zwerner.
The director of public information for Newport News Public Schools, Michelle Price, said that “since the school’s investigation is ongoing, I cannot comment on the statements presented by Ms. Zwerner’s lawyer at this time.” Although, the Newport News School Board has removed Superintendent George Parker III by a vote of 5-1 at a special meeting on Wednesday.
Police have described the shooting as “intentional.” Despite being shot, Zwerner did evacuate her students while another teacher restrained the 6-year-old.
According to the Gun Violence Archive, there has been 40 mass shootings so far in 2023. The number of children that have been injured by a gun totals 38 and the number of children who have been killed by a gun is 21.
We have only just begun the year. It’s the last full week of January and, yet, here we are, once again, discussing gun violence on a school campus.
Here’s how to talk to kids about active shooter drills. And, here’s what parents can do in the aftermath of a school shooting.