#StopGunViolence! Editorials General United States World

Teacher Shot by 6-year-old student seeks $40 million for Damages

A first-grade Newport News elementary teacher who was shot and seriously injured by her 6-year-old student seeks a $40 million lawsuit against the Virginia state school system. According to AP, she had complained to the school officials several times about the boy’s behaviors against his peers and the teacher in her classroom; he had a gun and was in a “violent mood,” but the school official didn’t provide a suitable protocol.

Abby Zwerner (25), the teacher from Richneck Elementary School in Newport News, VA was shot by the boy and has had to undergo four surgeries since the shooting happened. She got two shots in her chest and on her hand on Jan. 6, 2023.

The lawsuit defendants are the Newport News School Board, former Superintendent George Parker III, former Richneck principal Briana Foster Newton, and former Richneck assistant principal Ebony Parker.

According to AP, no one has been charged in the shooting, including the boy. The school board fired the superintendent, and the assistant principal resigned. Newton is still in the school system. After the incident, the school board decided to install metal detectors in every school and has begun checking backpacks in the district including at Richneck elementary school.

Zwerner’s attorneys say in a lawsuit, all of the defendants knew the boy “had a history of random violence” at school and home. The boy had violent behavior in last year where he “strangled and choked” his kindergarten teacher.

The lawsuit states that school employees gave administrators a series of warnings in the hours before the shooting, beginning with Zwerner, who went to the office of assistant principal Ebony Parker between 11:15 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. She told Parker that the boy “was in a violent mood,” threatened to beat up a kindergartener, and stared down a security officer in the lunchroom. The lawsuit alleges that Parker “had no response, refusing even to look up at (Zwerner) when she expressed her concerns,”

The boy denied and refused to provide his backpack to look up after two students saw a firearm in his possession in the reading room. Zwerner told Kovac, the reading specialist that she had seen the boy take something out of his backpack and put it into the pocket of his sweatshirt. Kovac searched the backpack and didn’t find a weapon.

Kovac told Ebony Parker, that around 11:45 a.m., she’d been alerted by two students that the boy had a gun and Parker responded that “pockets were too small to hold a handgun and did nothing.”

A first-grade boy also reported seeing the gun, and the boy’s teacher informed the office and a music teacher, and both heard of the boy’s firearm possession and let Parker know. About one hour later, the boy shot the gun out of his pocket to aim at Zwerner and shot her.

The boy used his mother’s gun which had been purchased legally. An attorney for the boy’s family has said that the firearm was secured on a high closet shelf and had a lock on it.

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