Abby Zwerner, the teacher who was allegedly shot by a 6-year-old at an elementary school in Newport News, Virginia, warned school officials on the day of the shooting that the child had a gun, according to her attorney.
“Abby and these other teachers at Richneck Elementary School were trying to do the right thing on Jan. 6,” attorney Diane Toscano said Wednesday in a news conference at the school, shooting at him and threatening people.
“But the administration could not be disturbed,” Toscano said, telling reporters that she intended to file a lawsuit on Zwerner’s behalf.
“This tragedy was entirely preventable if the school administrators responsible for school safety had done their part and taken action when they were aware of an imminent threat,” Toscano said. “But instead they didn’t act and Abby was shot dead.”
CNN has reached out to the school district for comment on Toscano’s claims, which come on the same day the Newport News school board plans to vote on whether to fire the district’s principal following the shooting nearly three weeks ago.
A 6-year-old boy was taken into custody on January 6 after carrying his mother’s legally purchased gun to school in his backpack and shooting dead his first grade teacher, Abby Zwerner, police said at the time.
Zwerner, 25, was initially in critical condition and later stabilized before being discharged from hospital after a bullet went through her hand and into her chest in her classroom. Police said the shooting was premeditated.
Since the shooting, the school board has held several meetings, including a heated one last week that saw members face backlash from parents. The school board also met in closed discussion Tuesday, after which they decided to hold a special meeting on Wednesday.
are members According to the agenda posted on the school board’s website, Wednesday’s meeting is scheduled to discuss – and likely approve – a separation agreement and settlement with Superintendent George Parker III.
Board members also plan to discuss the appointment of an interim superintendent.
CNN has reached out to Parker’s office for comment.
The school will reopen on Jan. 30, almost a month after the shooting, school officials confirmed to CNN in an email earlier this week.
During the intense board meeting with parents on Jan. 17, emotions ran high as frustrated parents spoke out about the fear and anxiety their children have endured since gun violence. At least one parent called for the superintendent’s position to be reassessed.
“Why did it attract negative national attention before you took this seriously and actually reevaluated it?” asked the parents. “I think it’s time for the citizens and parents of Newport News who didn’t vote for you to reevaluate your services as our, our superintendent.”
The shooting came as America continued to grapple with the pervasive issue of gun violence that pervades many public spaces across the country.
The Richneck Elementary shooting was the first in 2023 at a US school, according to a CNN analysis. In 2022, there were 60 shootings at K-12 schools, CNN analysis shows.
Still, school shootings by such a young suspect are very rare.
There have been three other cases where the suspect was as young as 6: in 2000, 2011, and 2021, according to the K-12 School Shooting Database, which has tracked shootings in American schools since the 1970s.
The elementary school shooting came after an altercation between the teacher and the student, who pointed the gun at the teacher and fired a single round, Newport News Police Chief Steve Drew said.
“There was no physical fight or fight,” Drew said at the time, adding that no other students were involved.
The boy was temporarily detained and examined at a local hospital.
Almost two weeks after the shooting, the boy’s family released their first statement praising the teacher.
“Our hearts go out to our son’s teacher and we pray for her healing after such an unimaginable tragedy as she selflessly ministered to our son and the children at school,” the family said in the statement, which was released by attorney James Ellenson.
The family pointed out that their son has a disability and that he is being cared for at school.
“Our son has an acute disability and was under a care plan at school that required his mother or father to attend school with him and accompany him to class every day,” the family statement said.
The family also said the gun allegedly used was seized before the shooting. They said a family member usually went to class with him, but not the week of the shooting.
“We will regret our absence on this day for the rest of our lives,” the family statement said.
Meanwhile, the police chief has hinted that the boy’s mother could potentially face charges in the shooting.
“And at the end of the day, when that’s all in place and the facts and what the law supports, the Commonwealth Attorney will make the decision on whether to press charges… against the parents,” Drew said.
It is an offense under Virginia law for an adult to leave a loaded, unsecured firearm in a manner that could endanger a child under the age of 14. It is forbidden for a person to unknowingly allow a child under the age of 12 to use a firearm.