The family of the 6-year-old student accused of shooting his first-grade teacher in Virginia earlier in January broke their silence Thursday with a statement issued from their attorney.
Richneck Elementary School teacher Abigail Zwerner sustained life-threatening injuries Jan 6. after being shot by one of her students during class. Despite her injuries, Zwerner managed to rush her other students to safety before seeking medical attention from the administrative staff. The boy was restrained by another staff member until police arrived.
While maintaining a desire for the child’s privacy, the family said their son “suffers from an acute disability and was under a care plan at the school that included his mother or father attending school with him and accompanying him to class every day,” according to the statement shared by WAVY TV10. The week of the shooting was the first time a parent had not accompanied the boy to class, something the family says they will always regret, the statement continued.
“We have been cooperating with local and federal law enforcement to understand how this could have happened. We have found there are no easy answers or simple explanations,” according to the statement.
#BREAKING For the 1st time, the family of a 6-year-old accused of shooting his first-grade teacher at Richneck Elementary School in Newport News on January 6 has issued a statement. https://t.co/UWrlWt7u7a
— WAVY TV 10 (@WAVY_News) January 19, 2023
“Our family has always been committed to responsible gun ownership and keeping firearms out of the reach of children. The firearm our son accessed was secured,” the statement read. It remains unclear as to how the child obtained the 9mm handgun reportedly used in the shooting.
Newport News held a three-hour school board meeting Tuesday to discuss the shooting with many teachers and parents who have blamed the incident on policies they say create a toxic environment for students and educators alike, the Associated Press (AP) reported. Attendees alleged disruptive students who assault classmates and staff are consistently permitted to remain in the classroom without facing consequences for their behavior.
“Every day in every one of our schools, teachers, students and other staff members are being hurt. Every day, they’re hit. They’re bitten. They’re beaten. And they’re allowed to stay so that our numbers look good,” high school librarian Nicole Cooke said at the meeting, AP reported.
“If Abigail had been respected, ” Cooke added, “she wouldn’t be in the hospital right now.” Cooke addressed superintendent George Parker, according to the outlet.
The child’s family praised teacher Abigail Zwerner for working “diligently” and “compassionately” to support their son and honored her “courage, grace and sacrifice.”
“We pray for her healing in the aftermath of such an unimaginable tragedy as she selflessly served our son and the children in the school,” according to the family’s statement.
The boy was transported to a local hospital following the shooting, where he is still receiving care and undergoing treatment, the statement continued. No one has been charged in the case at the time of writing, though Newport News Police Chief Steve Drew said during a press conference that once the Commonwealth’s attorney’s office has reviewed the facts of the case and assessed what the law supports, it will determine whether charges will be brought against the child’s parents. (RELATED: Police Arrest Man After His 4-Year Old Son Allegedly Brought Loaded Gun To School)
“We continue to pray for his teacher’s full recovery, and for her loved ones who are undoubtedly upset and concerned. At the same time, we love our son and are asking that you please include him and our family in your prayers,” the statement concluded, according to WAVY.