A Newport News, Virginia elementary school teacher helped her students to safety after a 6-year-old student brought a 9 mm Taurus pistol into her classroom in a backpack and allegedly shot her in the chest, police said in an update on Monday.
Newport News Police Chief Steve Drew told reporters on Monday that police interviewed the 6-year-old and his mother at police headquarters after the incident at Richneck Elementary School and determined the firearm was legally purchased in York County.
“We determined that the firearm was in the residence where they lived, and the child had obtained that firearm, placed it in his backpack, and brought it to school. He was brought to school that day by his mother later that morning,” Drew said.
Police determined the shooting was not accidental.
Owing to the suspect’s age, detectives consulted with Human Services, Child Protective Services, the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office, and the Community Service Board, which deals with mental and behavioral health.
It was determined to take the 6-year-old into custody under an emergency custody order and evaluate him at a local hospital, according to police. The boy was then detained under a temporary detention order obtained from a magistrate and is currently receiving treatment at a medical facility, Drew said.
Investigations will continue to determine, among other things, if Child Protective Services and Human Services had any prior interactions with the boy and his family.
The Newport News police chief walked reporters through a timeline of the incident and gave an update on the condition of teacher Abigail Zwerner, 25, who was initially hospitalized with a life-threatening injury on Friday.
“Abigail wanted me to tell you all … that she is in stable condition and she is thankful for the thoughts and prayers,” Drew said.
Drew said he had met with Zwerner on two occasions since the incident and noted that he was touched that each time they met, she asked after her students. He described her as a “trooper” and “a hero.”