Posted on January 10, 2023

Teacher, 25, Was Deliberately Shot by Six-Year-Old Boy in Virginia Classroom

James Gordon, Daily Mail, January 9, 2023

The six-year-old boy who intentionally fired a gun at his first-grade teacher was moments away from having the weapon confiscated from him and may never be charged with a crime because of his age.

Abby Zwerner, a first-grade class at Richneck Elementary School in Newport News, Virginia, had just finished reading a story and were about to head to an art lesson when the youngster pulled out the handgun.

Abby Zwerner

Abby Zwerner

‘She was going to confiscate it, and that’s when he shot,’ Brittaney Gregory, whose son was also in the class, told the Washington Post.

The children then raced out of the classroom and into another one, where they stayed in a lockdown. Zwerner was rushed to hospital with life-threatening injuries and is now in serious but stable condition.

The boy’s first-grade teacher Abby Zwerner, 25, was rushed to hospital with critical injuries on Friday.

Although the child in still in custody, it is unlikely he will ever be charged with any crime.

‘As a practical matter, it would be next to impossible to prosecute a six-year-old, no matter how serious,’ said Andrew Block, associate professor at the University of Virginia School of Law.

Block noted that the ‘infancy defense,’ means that people younger than seven do not have the mental ability to form the intent to commit a crime.

‘The bigger barrier, presuming the prosecution could overcome that, is all defendants have to be competent to stand trial,’ Block said. ‘That means you have to understand the nature of legal proceedings against you and assist in your own defense. There’s no way a six-year-old would meet that criteria.

‘The juvenile justice system would not be equipped to handle such a young kid.’

An adult could face misdemeanor charges as under Virginia law, guns need to be secured from children under the age of 14.

‘There’s way more we don’t know than we do,’ Block said. ‘I can’t imagine what it’s like to be the teacher or teacher’s family; it’s horrible in every single direction.’

Newport News police chief Steve Drew met with Zwerner and her family on Saturday morning.

Her wounds have been described as life-threatening but her condition is improving and she is now in a serious but stable condition.

Gregory’s son said that the teacher who was shot was his favorite, describing her as bubbly and outgoing.

She was also someone who fostered love and encouragement among her young pupils, sometimes leaving surprise notes in the children’s backpacks.

‘I hope you had a great day,’ one read. ‘I want you to know your smile is contagious,’ said another.

‘She’s such a sweet lady,’ Gregory explained to the Post. ‘She’s very attentive to the kids.’

Her son has had nightmares in the nights since the shooting.

‘He normally sleeps in his own room but the night of the shooting he came into my room. He was talking in his sleep, saying we got to get out of here,’ Gregory said. She is now planning to take her son to a therapist this week.

Gregory believes her son was deeply affected by what he saw and experienced.

‘He’s normally a talker, but he stumbled over his words. I was so relieved,’ she added. ‘But you could tell on his face what he was going through. He was a deer in the headlights.’

‘The individual is a six-year-old student and is right now in police custody,’ Chief Drew said at a press conference on Friday. ‘This was not an accidental shooting.

‘It was in a classroom, an altercation took place there,’ he said. ‘We did not have a situation where someone was going around the school shooting. We had a situation in one particular location where a gunshot was fired.’

Classes have been canceled on Monday and Tuesday for all of the 550 students at the school which teaches from kindergarten through to the fifth grade.

‘It’s very devastating,’ Gregory said of the shooting, never believing such a thing would be possible in her son’s school. ‘It’s sad that such a young child holds so much anger.’

A grandmother of one of the students told that a student brought ‘shiny gold bullets’ to school last week, but it is unclear if it is the same child who was taken into custody today.

Speaking to, she said: ‘The parents outside stated that their child told them a kid brought golden shiny bullets to school and was thinking about bringing his gun. The student told the parent, who informed the school.

‘And the school just yesterday got back to the parent saying the parent of the kid said it was a nerf bullet and the parent said nerf bullets aren’t shiny and gold.’

She was not positive if the child who brought in the ‘bullets’ is the same child allegedly involved in last week’s shooting.

One parent, Sebastian Gonzalez-Hernandez, confirmed Zwerner’s identity.

He said ‘she screamed at her kids to run away’ after the student fired a single bullet.

‘Even after she’d been shot she was thinking about the safety of her children,’ Gonzalez-Hernandez said.

His own six-year-old, who he did not wish to name, was in the classroom when the gunshot went off.

‘My son didn’t see what happened, he heard the gunshot go off, and turned around to see Miss Zwerner on the floor,’ he told on Friday.

‘She is an amazing teacher, so dedicated. My son absolutely loves her, and we’re devastated about what’s happened. We are all thinking of her and hoping that she gets better soon.’