School leaders were warned three times before 6-year-old shot teacher in Virginia, attorney says

Administrators were warned three times about a 6-year-old boy carrying a gun around a Virginia elementary school but took no action until the child shot his teacher, according to the teacher’s attorney.

Victim Abby Zwerner’s lawyer Diane Toscano ripped leaders at Newport News’ Richneck Elementary School at a Wednesdsay press conference.

“On that 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,” Toscano said. “But the administration could not be bothered.”

Lawyer Diane Toscano, who represents Abby Zwerner, reads a statement to media on Wednesday in Newport News, Va.

Zwerner, a 25-year-old first grade teacher, was seriously wounded in the Jan. 6 shooting. She was released from the hospital last week.

According to Toscano, a different teacher went to administrators just after noon on the day of the shooting and said she believed the boy had a gun in his locker. Nothing was done in response.

Less than an hour later, a second teacher told school leaders that a different student was “crying and fearful” after the 6-year-old showed the gun at recess and threatened his classmate, Toscano said.

Messages of support for teacher Abby Zwerner grace the front door of Richneck Elementary School Newport News, Va., on Jan. 9, 2023.

A third employee also heard the boy might have a gun and informed administrators, but was ignored and told “to wait the situation out because the school day was almost over,” according to Toscano.

Shortly afterward, the boy shot Zwerner in the hand and chest. The student intentionally aimed at Zwerner and pulled the trigger, according to police.

“Abby Zwerner was shot in front of those horrified kids, and the school and community are living the nightmare, all because the school administration failed to act,” Toscano said. “Were they not so paralyzed by apathy, they could have prevented this tragedy.”

Zwerner plans to sue the district, according to Toscano.

On Wednesday night, Newport News school district superintendent George Parker III was ousted by the local school board in a 5-1 vote. Parker will receive a $500,000 severance package, as he was canned “without cause.”

FILE - Newport News Superintendent of Schools George Parker makes remarks on the safety parameters currently in place at the city's schools during a press conference at the Newport News School Administration Building in Newport News, Va., Jan. 9, 2023.

Another teacher said the shooting of Zwerner was an extreme case of everyday problems in the district.

“This is just another example of administrators not listening to the concerns of teachers, and the only reason we’re talking about this one is because Abby Zwerner got shot,” said Cindy Connell, a Newport News middle school teacher.

“I think any administrator that was told repeatedly that this child has a weapon, we think this child has a weapon — anyone who knew about this situation and did nothing should lose their job,” she added.

With News Wire Services

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