School was warned 6-year-old had gun

According to the Newport News school superintendent, at least one official at the Virginia school where a 6-year-old boy shot his teacher last week knew the child had brought a 9mm gun to class but did not take it away.  

In an online town hall conducted by Superintendent George Parker on Thursday night, he disclosed that an unnamed staff member at Richneck Elementary School had been informed that the first-grader was in possession of a gun.

“At least one administrator was notified of a possible weapon in the timeline that we’re reviewing and was aware that that student had — there was a potential that there was a weapon on campus,” the superintendent informed parents.

A search of the boy’s backpack was also conducted, but no firearm was found. A few hours later, the 6-year-old pulled out his mother’s 9mm Taurus handgun during an argument with teacher Abigail Zwerner and shot her.

Newport News police chief previously stated that the boy brought the gun to school in his backpack.

It was not immediately possible to determine who informed the administrator about the handgun and why it was not found and seized.

It was a virtual town hall designed for parents only, but WAVY-TV broadcast it after gaining access to it from a parent.

Parker informed parents that security measures at local schools will be enhanced, beginning with Richneck Elementary, which will be equipped with a separating wall, doors to the hallway, a buzzer system, and a double entranceway.

He also mentioned that he was considering requiring students to carry clear plastic backpacks.

On January 6, Abigail Zwerner, 25, was shot in the hand and chest by her six-year-old student.

At a press conference earlier Thursday, Newport News School Board Chair Lisa Surles-Law announced that metal detectors would be installed in all local schools.

Earlier this week, the board approved the purchase of 90 walk-through metal detectors and has already begun ordering them, said Surles-Law.

There will be multiple detectors installed at some schools, according to 12 News Now. The total cost of the devices was not disclosed by Surles-Law.

Parker stated earlier this week that the city already uses metal detectors and random searches in high schools and middle schools, but not in elementary schools.

She added that the shooting last week had changed that, and that she was sorry it had taken place “during their watch.”

“The time is now to put metal detectors in all of our schools,” she stated at a press conference.

Since the incident a week ago, Richneck Elementary has been closed. The parents have not yet been informed whether their children will have to return to the same classroom where the teacher was shot.

It was reported Thursday that Zwerner’s condition was “improving every day.”

According to Police Chief Steve Drew, the shooting was “intentional.” A judge will determine what will happen to the underage shooter, who is being held in an emergency custody facility.

It is unclear how the boy obtained access to the weapon. It is a misdemeanor in Virginia to leave a loaded gun where a child under 14 can access it, punishable with a maximum one-year prison sentence and a fine of $2,500.