Abigail Zwerner, the Virginia first-grade teacher who was shot by her six-year-old student, reportedly texted a loved one before the shooting that the child had a gun and school officials were not responding to her pleas for help.
A source told NBC News that the text from Zwerner stated the boy’s backpack carried a gun and administrators at Richneck Elementary School in Newport News weren’t coming to her aid.
“She was frustrated because she was trying to get help with this child, for this child, and then when she needed help, no one was coming,” the source stated.
On Wednesday, Diane Toscano, Zwerner’s attorney, announced she will file a lawsuit against the Newport News School Division.
Diane Toscano, Zwerner's attorney, announced that the Newport News School Division has been notified that she intends to file a lawsuit against the school system. pic.twitter.com/eQ9nK7m6Gj
— Kelsey Kendall (@KelseyKSU) January 25, 2023
Prior to the shooting, the boy allegedly told another educator he wanted to light Zwerner on fire and watch her die.
“Anything that has been reported to our school leadership team in regards to concerns at Richneck from teachers and staff members is part of the investigation. It’s being thoroughly investigated,” Newport News Public Schools spokesperson Michelle Price said.
Virginia 6 year old stole mom’s gun to shoot teacher. Will parents face charges? https://t.co/7XD2mXoolc #Abigail Zwerner #Abby Zwerner #Newport News shooting #AbbyZwerner #Richneck Elementary School pic.twitter.com/90UajbLB7Y
— Scallywagandvagabond (@ScallywagNYC) January 10, 2023
The Newport News School Division Superintendent, George Parker III, stated at a virtual townhall after the January 6 shooting virtual town hall that the boy had come to school late and his book bag inspected when he was signed in, adding, “At least one administrator was notified of a possible weapon.”
A Newport News police spokeswoman claimed that police confirmed “a school employee was notified of a possible firearm at Richneck Elementary before the shooting occurred,” adding, “The Newport News Police Department was not notified of this information prior to the incident.”
Zwerner suffered injuries described as life-threatening at the time of the shooting.
“She was going to confiscate it, and that’s when he shot,” the mother of one child in the class told The Washington Post.
The former director of the Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice cited what he called the “infancy defense” to dismiss the idea that the child, placed in police custody, could be prosecuted.
“As a practical matter, it would be next to impossible to prosecute a 6-year-old, no matter how serious,” Andrew Block told the Post. “The bigger barrier, presuming the prosecution could overcome that, is all defendants have to be competent to stand trial. That means you have to understand the nature of legal proceedings against you and assist in your own defense. There’s no way a 6-year-old would meet that criteria.”
A parent of one of the first-grade students told The Daily Mail that Zwerner “screamed at her kids to run away” after she was shot. Sebastian Gonzalez-Hernandez continued, “Even after she’d been shot she was thinking about the safety of her children. My son didn’t see what happened; he heard the gunshot go off, and turned around to see Miss Zwerner on the floor.”
“She is an amazing teacher, so dedicated,” he added. “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.”
Related: ‘Screamed At Her Kids To Run Away’: 6-Year-Old Shoots His 1st Grade Teacher