In a Virginia school district, where a 6-year-old is said to have shot his teacher in the chest earlier this month, the fallout is getting worse. School officials are leaving their jobs because of the possibility of a lawsuit and questions about whether the shooting could have been stopped.
A district spokesperson told CNN that Richneck Elementary School assistant principal Ebony Parker quit on Wednesday, hours before the school board voted to fire superintendent George Parker III, whose last day is February 1. A temporary superintendent has been chosen by the board.
After the shooting, the district has been getting a lot of harsh criticism. Police say that on January 6, the 6-year-old student brought his mother’s legally bought gun to school and shot his first-grade teacher, Abby Zwerner, who survived. His family said that the boy also has a disability.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, the teacher’s lawyer said Wednesday that school officials were told more than once about the gun before the shooting. This adds to the anger that gun violence has spread to yet another school in the US, where traumatic shootings happen almost every 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,” attorney Diane Toscano told reporters at a news conference on Wednesday.
As the lawyer said she was going to sue the district, she said that the administration “failed to act” even though they “knew of imminent danger.”
“Abby and these other teachers at Richneck Elementary School tried to do the right thing on January 6,” Toscano said. “But the administration could not be bothered.”
A spokesperson for the school district wouldn’t say anything about the possible lawsuit. Zwerner, who is 25 years old, was in critical condition when he first went to the hospital. After he got better, he was released from the hospital.
Since the shooting, the school has been closed, but students are expected to go back on Monday. And now that the first day of school is coming up, parents like Mark Garcia Sr. are worried. He told CNN that his son is in the student’s class and that since the shooting, his son has been very upset.
Garcia told CNN, “This is a scary situation, and my son is still scared.” “He wants to go back to school, but the most important thing to him is that he will be safe.”
Garcia stated that the school’s alleged inaction was “horrifying” Garcia said, adding, “The people who know about this failed us and they failed the security measures of everyone that’s inside of that school.”
Kasey Sypolt, the mother of a fifth-grade student at Richneck Elementary, hopes that now that school officials knew about the teachers’ concerns before the shooting, they will take the teachers’ concerns more seriously.
“Am I 100% comfortable sending him back? No,” Sypolt said of her child. “But I am hoping that the change in administration is going to make a difference, that they’re going to listen to teacher concerns and take things a little more seriously now.”
Read all the recent breaking news of Virginia:
- A Virginia Mother Describes the Events That Allegedly Led to Her 6-year-old Son Shooting a Teacher
- The Mayor of Virginia Claims That 6-year-old Abby Zwerner, Who Shot Her Teacher, is a Red Flag for the Nation
The Hours Before the Shooting Took Place
Before the shooting in Zwerner’s first-grade class, the teacher’s lawyer said at a news conference on Wednesday, there were some warning signs about the student.
Toscano said that Zwerner told a teacher just before 11:30 a.m. that day that the 6-year-old had “threatened to beat up another child.” Toscano said that the administration did not take the student out of class or call the police.
Toscano said that an hour later, at 12:30 p.m., another teacher told the principal that she thought the student had put a gun in his pocket and brought it to recess. Toscano said that the administrator “played down” the possibility by saying that the boy had “small pockets.”
Then, just after 1 p.m., a third teacher told administrators that another child, whom Toscano described as “crying and afraid,” had told the teacher that the 6-year-old “showed him the gun at recess and threatened to shoot him if he told anyone.”
Toscano said that a fourth worker then asked the boss for permission to search the boy, but was turned down.The lawyer said that about an hour later, the 6-year-old student shot Zwerner. CNN has asked the school district what they think about what Toscano said.
Newport News Police Chief Steve Drew said at the time that Zwerner and the student got into an argument, and then the student pointed the gun at Zwerner and fired a single shot. The chief said that no other students were involved and that there was no fight or struggle. The boy was given a temporary detention order and taken to a nearby hospital to be checked out.
CNN found that the shooting at Richneck Elementary was the first one at a US school this year. CNN’s study shows that there were 60 shootings at K-12 schools in 2022.
Boy’s Family Says They Are Praying for Teacher
The public still doesn’t know who the 6-year-old is, but his family has been making statements through their lawyer. The family said in a statement to CNN on Wednesday that they continue to “pray for Ms. Zwerner and wish her a full and complete recovery.” “Everyone is in our thoughts and prayers.” In an earlier statement, the boy’s family said that the boy has a disability and that the school was taking care of him.
“Our son suffers from an acute disability and was under a care plan at the school that included his mother or father attending school with him and accompanying him to Class every day,” the family statement says.
The family says that the gun that was used was locked up before the shooting. They said that he usually went to class with a family member, but that didn’t happen the week of the shooting.
“We will regret our absence on this day for the rest of our lives,” the family statement said.
Notably, the police chief has said that the boy’s mother might be charged in connection with the shooting. Under Virginia law, it is a misdemeanour for an adult to leave a loaded, unlocked gun where a child under the age of 14 could be hurt by it. It is against the law to give a gun to a child under the age of 12 without knowing it.
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