Mother of 6-Year-Old Richneck Elementary Student Who Shot His Teacher, Abigail Zwerner, Will Face Criminal Charges

On March 8, a city prosecutor confirmed that the 6-year-old Richneck Elementary student who shot his teacher, Abigail Zwerner, wouldn’t face criminal charges. At the time, they said they were still investigating the incident and had yet to determine if any adults would face charges, but everything was on the table. 

On April 10, Newport News Commonwealth’s Attorney Howard Gwynn confirmed that the mother of the student, Deja Taylor, will be facing a felony for child neglect and a misdemeanor for recklessly leaving a loaded firearm so as to endanger a child. She was indicted on the charges by a grand jury on Monday.

And she might not be the only one facing charges. Gwynn also spoke about the possibility of ‘additional persons’ being found ‘criminally responsible’ if a ‘Special Grand Jury decides to open an investigation into a number of security lapses that occurred leading up to the tragic shooting at Richneck Elementary. 

RELATED: Abigail Zwerner is Suing School Administrators for Ignoring Multiples Warning Signs Before Being Shot by 6-Year-Old Student

For those that need a refresher or haven’t heard the story yet, Abigail Zwerner was teaching her class on January 6 when one of her 6-year-old students shot her in the hand and chest with a 9 mm handgun. Despite being wounded, she managed to escort her class to safety before receiving medical attention.

The boy regularly displayed violent and unpleasant behavior in school and there was reason to believe something like this might happen, but most school authorities failed to listen to complaints on the day of the shooting. Luckily, Abigail Zwerner survived the attack as she continues to recover from the damage. 

In the wake of the shooting, the boy’s parents came forward and said the gun was purchased legally and it was secured on the day of the attack. Authorities are still trying to figure out how the child came to be in possession of the gun, but the recent charges imply that more could’ve been done to prevent the attack.

Since news of the shooting went viral, the school’s principal has been reassigned within the district, the assistant principal has resigned, and the superintendent has been fired. The school has also employed a full-time security guard and installed metal detectors to ensure something like this doesn’t happen again.  

Abigail Zwerner Sues Richneck Elementary School Officials

The mother of the student isn’t the only one being held responsible for the shooting. On April 3, Abigail Zwerner filed a $40 million lawsuit that named the Newport News School Board and some of the school administrators – including the principal, assistant principal, and superintendent mentioned above. 

The lawsuit claims several administrators ignored warning signs leading up to the event and alleges the incident could’ve been prevented if proper protocol was taken. The 6-year-old student received several complaints from Zwerner and other teachers in the days before and even on the day of the shooting. 

For example, the student was previously punished for choking and strangling a teacher. And while he was welcomed back to the school, he was to be supervised by a parent while at school – though they were not present on the day of the shooting. Two days before the shooting, he stole and broke Zwerner’s phone.  

On the day of the shooting, he threatened to beat up another student and mean-mugged a security officer. There was also reason to believe he had a gun on him and several teachers asked school administrators if they could search him – but the assistant principal refused to allow a search. 

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While Zwerner will be okay and will continue to recover from her wounds – both physically and mentally – she’s intent on making sure this doesn’t happen to any other teacher. She hopes school administrators learn from her experience and do a much better job of listening to concerns coming from teachers. 

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