Posted on February 8, 2023

Boy, 6, Who Shot His Teacher ‘Constantly Swore at Staff, Tried to Whip Them With His Belt and Choked Another Teacher

Christian Oliver, Daily Mail, February 7, 2023

A six-year-old boy who shot and wounded his teacher constantly swore at staff, tried to whip other students with his belt and once choked another teacher ‘until she couldn’t breathe’, a lawyer has claimed.

The incidents were described in a notice sent to the Newport News school district by Diane Toscano, a lawyer for teacher Abby Zwerner who was shot by the same boy earlier this year.

Abby Zwerner

Abby Zwerner

The lawyer informed the district that Ms Zwerner intends to sue.

Ms Zwerner had just finished reading a story to her class, who were about to head to an art lesson, when the six-year-old pulled out a handgun and shot her on January 6.

The notice of claim outlines the boy’s behavioral issues, and troubling interactions he had with teachers and fellow pupils at Richneck Elementary School in Virginia.

Two days before the shooting, the six-year-old allegedly ‘slammed’ Ms Zwerner’s mobile phone and broke it, according to the claim notice.

He was given a one-day suspension, but when he returned to Ms Zwerner’s class the following day, he pulled a 9mm handgun out of his pocket and shot her while she sat at a reading table, the notice says.

The document says that several hours before the shooting, at least three teachers and staff members warned school administrators they believed the boy had brought a gun to school.

His backpack was searched, but no gun was found, and administrators did not remove the boy from class, lock down the school or call police.

The claim notice says Ms Zwerner went to former assistant principal Ebony Parker’s office at about 11.15am that day ‘to advise her that the shooter seemed more ‘off’ than usual and was in a violent mood’.

It also says the boy had threatened to beat up a student and ‘angrily stared down’ the school security officer in the canteen.

The document describes several more warnings Ms Parker was allegedly given by staff about the boy having a gun.

‘Assistant Principal Parker should have called police, instead she did not follow proper protocol and chose to do absolutely nothing,’ the claim notice states.

Newport News Public Schools Superintendent Dr George Parker admitted there had been a report that the boy may have had a gun with him when he spoke at a town hall a week after the incident.

Speaking at the meeting with school parents, Dr Parker said: ‘At least one administrator was notified of a possible weapon in the timeline that we’re reviewing and was aware that that student had, there was a potential that there was a weapon on campus.’

He said the district would consider enforcing clear plastic backpacks, as it continues to reel from its third shooting in three years.

The Newport News School Board also announced that 90 walk-through metal detectors would be placed in schools across the district, starting with Richneck, where Ms Zwerner was shot last month.

Len Wallin, director of legal services for the school system, said in an email that it is standard practice for the school division to forward notices of intent to sue to its insurer, which handles such litigation.

Mr Wallin said the district’s insurer will handle decisions regarding whether it will represent Ms Parker ‘after consultation with the school board, if that is necessary’.