On January 6th, the Newport News community was shocked to learn of a 6-year-old student at Richneck Elementary School who shot his 25-year-old teacher while she was instructing her class. Police haven’t made any arrests and no one has been charged in the incident, but the investigation is still ongoing.
Once the incident went public, questions started pouring in regarding how the child came to possess the gun and how it was able to find its way into a classroom. In the two weeks since we’ve learned that the child took the gun from his home and that the gun was legally purchased and owned by his mother.
In a statement provided by the family’s attorney, James Ellenson, the child’s parents are speaking out for the first time since the incident occurred. They revealed their commitment to ‘responsible gun ownership’ and ‘keeping firearms out of the reach of children,’ adding the ‘firearm our son accessed was secured.’
The statement goes on to explain how their son ‘suffers from an acute disability,’ which requires the boy’s mother or father to attend school with him and accompany him to class every day. The family also receives help from the child’s grandparents and other caregivers to ensure his needs are being met.
On this particular day, neither the mother nor a caregiver was at the school with the child as it was ‘the first week when we were not in class with him.’ The family expressed how they will ‘regret our absence on this day for the rest of our lives.’ Police are now investigating whether or not the accident was preventable.
The family also extended their prayers and condolences to the teacher, who is expected to make a full recovery. “Our heart goes out to our son’s teacher and 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,” the statement read.
They praised the teacher’s diligence and compassion as they ‘sought the best education and learning environment for our son’ – ultimately thanking her for the courage, grace, and sacrifice she makes as a teacher. “We grieve alongside all of the other teachers, families, and administrators,” the family continued.
25-Year-Old Teacher, Abigail Zwerner, Released From Hospital
On January 19th, the Newport News community received a positive update on the Richneck Elementary School shooting. According to a spokesperson for the Riverside Regional Medical Center, the 25-year-old teacher – Abigail Zwerner – has been released from the hospital as she continues the recovery process.
“(Zwerner) continues her recovery as an outpatient with the support of family, friends, and health professionals. The Zwerner family respectfully asks for privacy during this time,” the statement read. Considering she had gunshot wounds to the hand and chest, she’s extremely lucky to be alive right now.
As the public learns more about the incident, they’re seeing just how heroic and courageous teachers are today – even in the face of danger. Despite being shot, Zwerner took the time to make sure her students made it out of the classroom and was the last one to leave the classroom before seeking medical help.
While the school has been closed ever since the incident occurred, Richneck Elementary has plans to start bringing students and staff members back into the facility next week. They’ll have emotional support services on-hand to assist students, families, and community members in their return to school.
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