The shooting of a first-grade teacher by a 6-year-old boy plunged the nation into uncharted waters of school violence, with many in the Virginia shipbuilding city where it happened demanding metal detectors in every school. On Thursday, the Newport News School Board said that 90 walk-through metal detectors would be placed in schools across the district, starting with Richneck Elementary School, where teacher Abigail Zwerner was shot last Friday, reports the Associated Press. The move came as educators nationwide grappled with the complex issue of how to prevent gun violence in even the youngest school populations. Educators have been trying to create safe spaces that feel less like prisons and more like schools. The new shooting fuels a debate over the effectiveness of metal detectors, which are still relatively rare in schools, and other safety measures. Newport News police say the boy brought his mother’s gun, which had been purchased legally, to school. The shooting occurred as Zwerner taught her first-grade class.
There was no warning and no struggle before the 6-year-old pointed the gun at Zwerner and fired one round. The bullet pierced Zwerner’s hand and struck her chest. The 25-year-old hustled students out of the classroom before being rushed to the hospital. Police Chief Steve Drew described the shooting as “intentional.” A judge will determine what’s next for the child, who is being held at a medical facility under an emergency custody order. In the hours before the boy shot his teacher, a school staffer had searched the child’s backpack looking for a weapon, a school district spokesperson said Thursday, the Washington Post reports. The search, revealed during a meeting school officials held for parents, was conducted after a report was made that the student may have had a weapon. No weapon was found.