Home News Teacher Shot by 6-Year-Old Will ‘Never Forget’ the Look on His Face

Teacher Shot by 6-Year-Old Will ‘Never Forget’ the Look on His Face

by Staff

The Virginia teacher who was shot by a 6-year-old student in her classroom in January said in a television interview broadcast on Tuesday that she would “never forget the look on his face that he gave me while he pointed the gun directly at me.”

In her first interview since the shooting, the teacher, Abigail Zwerner, 25, told NBC’s “Today” show: “It’s changed me. It’s changed my life.” She did not elaborate.

On Jan. 6, Ms. Zwerner was at a table in her first-grade classroom at Richneck Elementary School in Newport News, Va., about 70 miles southeast of Richmond. At about 2 p.m., the authorities said, the boy pulled out a handgun at his desk, aimed it at her and fired. A single bullet passed through her hand and struck her chest, leaving her with what the authorities said were “life-threatening” injuries.

“I remember him pointing the gun at me,” she said in the interview. “I remember the look on his face. I remember the gun going off.”

Ms. Zwerner said that she was “terrified” and that her initial reaction was to remove the screaming students from the classroom. When she made it to the school’s office, co-workers applied pressure to her wounds to stop the bleeding. Her lung had collapsed, and doctors later told her “it could have been fatal,” she said.

“I’m not sure when the shock will ever go away because of just how surreal it was and, you know, the vivid memories that I have of that day,” Ms. Zwerner said. “I think about it daily.”

The Newport News Police Department said the shooting was intentional. The boy had retrieved the weapon, which his mother had legally purchased, from his home, put it in his backpack and took it to school, the department said.

That morning, Ms. Zwerner said, “felt like just a regular school day, but I started hearing things, and things started happening that made my fear grow.”

“As the day went on,” she said, “it grew more. My fear grew more.”

Diane Toscano, a lawyer for Ms. Zwerner, said in January that there had been escalating warnings that the child had a gun. School leaders were warned three times, she said, raising questions about the school’s response.

After revelations about the warnings, and as pressure from parents and educators mounted, the Newport News school board voted to terminate the contract of the superintendent, George Parker III.

In the interview broadcast on Tuesday, Ms. Toscano said there had been “multiple people responsible for those failures.” NBC reported that Ms. Toscano said she planned to file a lawsuit against the school district in two weeks.

School district officials in Newport News said they searched the boy’s backpack to check for a gun, but no weapon was found.

The child will not be charged, but the Commonwealth attorney, Howard E. Gwynn, told NBC News this month that he was still deciding whether others would face criminal charges.

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