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US teacher shot by six-year-old is improving

January 9, 2023 12:47 PM


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The US teacher who authorities say was shot by a six-year-old student is a hard-working educator devoted to her students and enthusiastic about the profession that runs in her family, fellow teachers and city officials say.

John Eley III, a former member of the Newport News School Board, identified the first-grade teacher as 25-year-old Abby Zwerner.

Zwerner was shot on Friday at Richneck Elementary School in Virginia. Classes at the school have been cancelled for Monday and Tuesday.

Shortly after the shooting, police said Zwerner had life-threatening injuries, but she has improved and was listed in stable condition at a local hospital.

Eley and other city officials met with teachers and the principal at the school on Friday and later went to the hospital, where they met with members of Zwerner’s family, including several aunts who also are teachers.

“The family was all educators and said she was excited about doing the job,” said Eley, who was recently elected to the Newport News City Council.

“The custodians and other teachers spoke about how she’s a good teammate, she’s a team player, she loves her children, she’s just an all-around good teacher.”

Cindy Hurst said her eight-year-old granddaughter is still rattled by the shooting. She was in Zwerner’s class last year, and told her grandmother she is a great teacher.

“I just hate that this happened,” Hurst told The Virginian-Pilot. “But life as we know it may not ever be the same - I don’t know.” 

Police Chief Steve Drew said the boy shot and wounded the teacher with a handgun in a first-grade classroom. He was later taken into police custody. Drew said the shooting was not accidental and was part of an altercation. No students were injured.

Police have declined to describe what led to the altercation or any other details about what happened in the classroom, citing the ongoing investigation. They have also declined to say how the boy got access to the gun or who owns the weapon.

Virginia law does not allow six-year-olds to be tried as adults. In addition, a six-year-old is too young to be committed to the custody of the Department of Juvenile Justice if found guilty.



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