Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Virginia school accused of ignoring multiple warnings about 6-year-olds with guns

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In a news conference, Diane Toscano, Zwerner’s attorney, said administrators at Richneck Elementary School in Newport News, Virginia, ignored multiple reports from teachers that a student had a gun in either his on Jan. 6, the day Zwerner was out backpack or his bag had shot.

Jan. 25 (News) — The shooting of elementary school teacher Abby Zwerner was avoidable if school officials had heeded warnings that a 6-year-old student was armed, a lawyer for the teacher said Wednesday.

On three occasions that morning, three different school officials told the administration that the boy was carrying a gun and was threatening other students, Toscano said.

“But the administration could not be disturbed,” Toscano said.

“This tragedy was completely preventable if the school administration responsible for school safety had done their part and taken steps to recognize the imminent danger,” Toscano said.

The first report came between 11:15 and 11:30 am, when Zwerner told an administrator that the boy had threatened to “hit” another child.

At around 12:30 p.m., another teacher told an administrator that she searched the boy’s backpack and found no gun. She said she suspected the boy put the gun in his pocket before going on break.

The manager dismissed the warning, saying, according to Toscano, “He has small pockets.”

After 1 p.m., a third teacher said they spoke to another boy, who they found crying. The boy told them that the suspect showed them the gun during the break and threatened to shoot them if they told anyone about it.

A fourth school worker, hearing about a child who may have had a gun, asked permission to search his backpack, but was denied by administration.

“He was told to wait out the situation because the school day was almost over,” Toscano said.

Zwerner was shot dead in front of her class at around 1:59 p.m. She led her students out of the classroom before leaving as well. Then she walked down the hall and into the administration office, where the faculty administered their first aid while awaiting the arrival of the medics.

Another school employee held the shooter until police arrived.

“Abby Zwerner is the best of us,” said Toscano. “An optimistic, dedicated and caring elementary school teacher who endured the unthinkable when she was deliberately shot dead while teaching by a 6-year-old student in front of her first grade.”

Toscano said Zwerner is recovering from the incident at home but the bullet that struck her remains in her body. She told the Newport News School Board that she intended to file a lawsuit on Zwerner’s behalf, but did not explain what charges would be filed.

“Had the school administration acted in the interests of their teachers and their students, Abby would not have sustained a gunshot wound to the chest,” she said.

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