Virginia School Official Aware That 6-Year-Old May Have Been Armed Before Teacher Was Shot, Superintendent Says
Newport News superintendent George Parker speaks during a vigil for Abby Zwerner, the teacher shot by a 6-year-old student at Richneck Elementary, in front of the Newport News Public Schools Administration Building on Jan. 9, 2023. Shortly after the shooting, police said Zwerner had life-threatening injuries, but she has improved and was listed in stable condition at a local hospital.
Billy Schuerman/The Virginian-Pilot/Tribune News Service via Getty Images.

A Virginia school administrator knew of a possible weapon on campus before a teacher was shot by a 6-year-old, according to the school’s superintendent. 

Newport News Public Schools Superintendent George Parker told parents Thursday evening that “at least one” school official was aware of a potential gun on the campus of Richneck Elementary School before first-grade teacher Abigail Zwerner was shot last week.

“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,” Parker told parents at a meeting, according to footage obtained by WAVY-TV.

Zwerner is in stable condition after being shot in the chest last Friday while attempting to confiscate a weapon from a student. According to Newport News Police Chief Steve Drew, the shooting was “intentional” and not an accident.  

The backpack of the student accused of shooting Zwerner was reportedly searched prior to the shooting, but no weapons were found. Parker said the school might mandate students use clear plastic backpacks in the wake of the shooting. 

The superintendent added that he has been consulting with Uvalde, Texas, school officials on improving school safety as well. “We’ve been in contact with Uvalde in Texas who have been very gracious in communicating with us,” he told parents. 

Last week’s incident was the third shooting in the last three years for the Virginia school district. One of the other incidents occurred at Heritage High School, which left two injured, while another at Menchville High School left one dead. 

In response, the district will also be installing metal detectors at schools, a move that has been praised by some parents. “Metal detectors in every school and every single entryway is a step. Empowering our teachers to take back their classrooms and get rid of disruptive students is a start. But once again, it comes back to the culture. If the teachers don’t feel like they’re being heard and if the teachers and the students don’t feel safe, they can’t teach and they can’t learn,” parent Tom Aman told 10 On Your Side.

The 6-year-old student is not expected to be charged with any crimes, but his mom could be, some experts said, according to NBC News.

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