The first-grade teacher in Virginia who was shot by her 6-year-old student was about to confiscate the gun when the child pulled the trigger.
“She was going to confiscate it — and that’s when he shot,” Brittaney Gregory, whose son was in the class, told the Washington Post.
Abby Zwerner, 25, was shot about 2 p.m. Friday at Richneck Elementary School in Newport News, Va. She was listed in serious but stable condition at Riverside Regional Medical Center, the paper reported.
The teacher has been hailed as a hero for warning the other kids to flee when the shooting erupted.
The 6-year-old has been taken into custody after the shocking incident, which Police Chief Steve Drew said resulted from a fight and was “not an accidental shooting.”
It was unclear what sparked the fight or how the boy managed to get hold of the weapon.
Gregory said that when the teacher told the children to run, they fled to another teacher’s classroom and remained under lockdown.
The mom described Zwerner as her son’s favorite teacher, who would leave notes in his backpack.
“I hope you had a great day,” Gregory said the teacher wrote in one. “I want you to know your smile is contagious,” another said, according to the parent.
Gregory said her son is “still in shock” and has nightmares from the shooting.
“He normally sleeps in his own room but the night of the shooting he came into my room. He was talking in his sleep, saying we got to get out of here,” she told the paper, adding that she plans to take her son to a therapist.
Gregory said she found out about the shooting when a neighbor asked her if she saw a report on TV.
“What school?” she said she asked. “‘Your son’s school. They said it was the first grade,’” the neighbor told her, she said.
“My heart instantly dropped,” Gregory said.
When she arrived, police said no kids had been hurt.
“Not physically, but this is going to scar him mentally,” she said she thought.
When she was finally reunited with her son, she said “you could tell on his face what he was going through. He was a deer in the headlights.”
Meanwhile, another student described the frantic moments after the shooting.
“We were doing math … an announcer came on, she was like, ‘Lockdown, I repeat, lockdown,’” fifth-grader Novah Jones, who was in another classroom, told CNN.
“I was scared … it was like my first lockdown and I didn’t know what to do, so I just hid under my desk like everybody was,” she said during an interview that included her mother, Kasheba Jones.
As police raced to the scene, Novah informed her mother about the lockdown.
“I texted her, ‘Mom, help,’” she said.
“I couldn’t breathe, I was in shock,” her mother, Kasheba, told CNN.
Novah said she had “flashbacks” and found it difficult to sleep that night because she worried that the boy “still had the gun and he was going to come to my house.”
Andrew Block, an associate professor at the University of Virginia School of Law, said it is unlikely the shooter could be prosecuted even though there is no minimum age for being charged with a crime in Virginia.
“As a practical matter, it would be next to impossible to prosecute a 6-year-old, no matter how serious,” Block, the former director of the Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice, told the Washington Post.
He cited the “infancy defense,” in which people under age 7 do not have the ability or mental state to form the intent to commit a crime.
“The bigger barrier, presuming the prosecution could overcome that, is all defendants have to be competent to stand trial,” Block told the outlet.585
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“That means you have to understand the nature of legal proceedings against you and assist in your own defense. There’s no way a 6-year-old would meet that criteria,” he added.
But Block noted that an adult could face misdemeanor charges if the pistol came from a home where the child lives because under state law, guns must be secured from kids under 14.
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