A lawyer for the first-grade teacher who was shot in the chest by a six-year-old student alleges the school was warned three times that the child had a gun and they didn’t do anything about it.
Teacher Abigail Zwerner announced that she was suing the school during a press conference held by her lawyer Diane Toscano on Wednesday.
On January 6, a six-year-old student shot her while she was teaching class at Richneck Elementary School in Newport News, Virginia. The child took the 9-millimeter handgun from his parents and brought it to school in his backpack. Zwerner was hit in the hand and chest but still was able to safely get her students out of the classroom.
The superintendent of Newport News Schools had previously said that administrators may have been aware that the student had a gun, but kept the details vague. Toscano unpacked many details in the press conference.
“On that day, over the course of a few hours, three different times, three times, school administration was warned by concerned teachers and employees that the boy had a gun on him at the school and was threatening people,” said Toscano. “But the administration could not be bothered.
“This tragedy was entirely preventable if the school administrators responsible for school safety had done their part and taken action when they had knowledge of imminent danger. But instead, they failed to act and Abby was shot.”
Toscano said that the first incident occurred at 11:15 a.m. when Zwener went to an administrator and said that the child had threatened to beat up another child. Then at 12:30 p.m., another teacher searched the child’s book bag. They told the administrator she thought the child put the gun in his pocket before going out for recess but was told that wasn’t likely and said “well, he has little pockets.”
“This is outrageous, given the opportunity to call the police over a report of a potentially armed student,” said Toscano. “The school administration failed to act and protect the school.”
The final incident allegedly occurred shortly after 1 p.m. when a teacher told an administrator that a student came up to them in tears saying that the child with the weapon showed them the gun and threatened to shoot them if they told anyone. A fourth teacher who heard about the incidents then asked administrators to search the boy but was denied because the school day was almost over.
An hour later Zwerner was shot. Police said the teacher, even while wounded, made sure to get her students to safety and check that none were left behind. The child was taken into police custody after the shooting, he will not face charges because of his age, however, his parents may. The handgun belonged to the child’s parents who told Buzzfeed News that the firearm had been “secured” when he took it.
Toscano said that Zwerner is recovering from her injury. She did not take any questions from the media.
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