Virginia School Official Learned Before Shooting That Child Might Have Gun

At least one administrator at the Virginia school where a 6-year-old boy shot a teacher last week was aware the boy might have had a gun, but no weapon was found when the boy’s backpack was searched before the shooting, school officials said Friday. 

Superintendent George Parker told parents at Richneck Elementary School during a virtual meeting Thursday that a school administrator learned the boy might have had a gun, according to Michelle Price, a spokesperson for Newport News Public Schools. Virginia’s WAVY-TV first reported the information.  

The administrator has not been identified, nor is it clear how the person learned the boy might have had a gun.  

Once alerted, school officials searched the boy’s backpack but did not find the gun. Why the gun was not ultimately found at the time has not been explained. The shooting took place about 2-1/2 hours after the boy’s backpack was searched.  

Teacher Abigail Zwerner, 25, was shot a week ago by the young student. Police hailed the teacher as a hero earlier this week for managing to evacuate students from her classroom even after she had been shot. Police said Friday that Zwerner’s last known condition was stable.  

The boy who shot Zwerner was in the custody of the Newport News Department of Human Services, police said. 

Police said the investigation was continuing and that once the prove was  complete, they would present the findings to the commonwealth’s attorney in Newport News, who would make any decision regarding possible charges against the boy’s mother. 

The mother legally purchased the 9 mm Taurus handgun, police have said, but could face misdemeanor charges if it’s found she did not properly secure the weapon in her home. 

The boy took the handgun from his home, placed it in his backpack and removed it while Zwerner was teaching class, Newport News Police Chief Steve Drew said earlier this week. The boy pointed the gun at the teacher and fired once. Zwerner was shot through the hand and into the chest. 

After the shot, another woman who works at the school rushed into the classroom and held the boy down while Zwerner escorted the estimated 16 to 20 students out, Drew said. When the police arrived, they found the gun on the floor. 

Parker previously told reporters the school was unprepared for a 6-year-old bringing a gun to school and firing it, saying this marked only the third time since 1970 that a child age 6 or younger had discharged a weapon at a U.S. school. 

The Newport News school board announced Thursday that metal detectors would be installed in every school in the city following the shooting.

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