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Six-Year-Old Who Shot Virginia Teacher Will Not Be Charged

The 6-year-old boy who allegedly shot his elementary school teacher this year will not be criminally charged, said Newport News, Va., Commonwealth’s Attorney Howard Gwynn. The student shot and wounded Richneck Elementary School teacher Abigail Zwerner on January 6, leaving her critically injured from a bullet that struck her chest, reports CNN. She was released from a hospital more than a week later. “After researching this issue thoroughly, we do not believe the law supports charging and convicting a 6-year-old with aggravated assault,” Gwynn said. The shooting rattled the community and outraged parents whose children were traumatized by yet another incident of gun violence on school grounds. In the weeks that followed, school leaders faced intense criticism over their handling of the incident and potential red flags that preceded the violence, with at least two officials leaving their jobs. “We had a lot of witnesses, a lot of students, a lot of children to interview and that took a long process,” said Police Chief Steve Drew. "It’s not something we wanted to rush through.”


In January, Drew said there was “certainly a possibility” the boy’s mother could face charges connected to the shooting. The boy’s family said the “firearm our son accessed was secured.” The family said the child has an “acute disability and was under a care plan at the school that included his mother or father attending school with him and accompanying him to class every day.” The week of the shooting was the first week the boy’s parents were not in class with him. The attorney representing the family said the legally purchased gun was kept on the top shelf of the mother’s bedroom closet and was secured by a trigger lock, but did not specify how the boy was able to access the weapon. The shooting was followed questions from concerned community members about how school officials had responded to earlier instances of alleged violent behavior from the boy. A January 24 legal notice sent to the school board by Zwerner’s attorney alleged that the boy cursed at staff members, tried to whip students with his belt, and choked a teacher.

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