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Mother of Child Who Shot Virginia Teacher Admits U.S. Gun Charges

The mother of a 6-year-old who shot his teacher at a Virginia elementary school in January pleaded guilty to federal gun charges. Deja Taylor admitted illegally obtaining and possessing a firearm and making false statements. Prosecutors alleged Taylor lied on a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives form to purchase the firearm that was later used in the school shooting. The U.S. Attorney’s office said Taylor falsely stated on the ATF form that she wasn’t an unlawful user of marijuana or other controlled substances, reports the Wall Street Journal. Federal law prohibits people who use controlled substances from owning guns. Her son is accused of intentionally shooting teacher Abigail Zwerner, 25, who ended up with a bullet that went through her hand and into her upper chest. Despite the injuries, Zwerner was able to get the children out of the classroom and was the last person to leave the class. The boy's family said he has an acute disability. Taylor was separately charged in state court with one felony count of child neglect and a misdemeanor charge of recklessly leaving a loaded firearm so as to endanger a child. In a court-ordered search of Taylor’s home after the school shooting, federal agents found marijuana, paraphernalia, marijuana edible packaging, and “numerous text messages illustrating the pervasive scope of Taylor’s marijuana use,” according to prosecutors. They noted a 2021 traffic stop involving Taylor where her purse was searched, and marijuana edibles and three unknown white pills were found. “Taylor denied knowledge of drugs inside the vehicle,” prosecutors said. Taylor is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 18. As part of a plea deal, prosecutors agreed on a recommended prison sentence of 18 to 24 months.

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A daily report co-sponsored by Arizona State University, Criminal Justice Journalists, and the National Criminal Justice Association

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