The former principal at the Virginia school where a 6-year-old boy allegedly shot and wounded his teacher had not been informed the student had a gun on the day of the shooting, her lawyer claims.
Briana Foster Newton was principal at Richneck Elementary School in Newport News when first-grade teacher Abby Zwerner, 25, was shot in her classroom on Jan. 6.
She and Assistant Principal Ebony Parker both resigned after it was revealed administrators had been warned three times that day about the boy being armed.
Zwerner also had reportedly texted a loved one an hour before the incident saying the child was carrying a gun in his backpack.
“It continues to be reported that unidentified school administrators were aware the 6-year-old student had a gun at school on Jan. 6 and simply failed to act,” Newton’s lawyer Pamela Branch told reporters Thursday, the Washington Post reported.
“Mrs. Newton has been assumed to be one of those administrators; however, this is far from the truth,” she said. “The fact of the matter is those who were aware the student had a gun on the premises that day did not report it to Ms. Newton.”
Newton, who did not attend the news conference in Richmond, has not commented publicly about the shooting.
Branch declined to say which administrators she believed had received the early warnings about the boy, but said her client has been unfairly blamed for not stopping the shooting.
Last month, Zwerner’s attorney Diane Toscano said school staffers warned administrators the boy was armed but no one called the cops, removed him or locked the school down before gunfire erupted.
“On that day, over the course of a few hours, three different times — three times — school administration was warned by concerned teachers and employees the boy had a gun on him at the school and was threatening people,” Toscano said. “But the administration could not be bothered.”
Toscano also claimed one employee asked to search the boy for a gun but was turned down by administrators.
She called the shooting “entirely preventable” and announced Zwerner plans to sue the school district.
Branch said her client has received “threatening emails and misinformed social media posts” from people accusing her of mishandling the shooting, the Washington Post reported.
She said Newton still works for the school district, but has not yet been given a new assignment.
“Mrs. Newton wants all of her former staff, students and parents of Richneck Elementary School to know that she completely understands how upsetting and traumatic it has been to hear about what has been reported about the horrific shooting,” Branch said, according to the paper.
“We certainly pray for Ms. Zwerner’s continued healing process,” added the attorney.
The heroic teacher was struck in the chest and hand, but still managed to usher her students out of the classroom before being rushed to the hospital.
The boy’s mother, who has not been identified, bought the 9mm gun legally, police have said, and has not been charged with a crime.
It’s unclear how the boy, whose family has said he has an “acute disability,” gained access to the weapon.
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