School Leaders Warned Three Times of Imminent Danger Before Six-Year-Old Pupil Shot Teacher

A lawyer for the teacher in the US state of Virginia revealed that school leaders had been warned three times on the day a six-year-old pupil shot and wounded his teacher that the boy might have a gun. Abigail Zwerner, 25, was shot by a student in her class as she was teaching at Richneck Elementary School in Newport News.[0] Police Chief Steve Drew characterized the shooting as “intentional,” saying the boy had the gun “on his person,” aimed the gun at Zwerner and fired one round, striking her in the hand and chest.[1]

Around 12:30 p.m., the teacher went to the administration to tell them she searched the boys bookbag because she suspected him of having a gun.[2] The teacher told the administration that she believed the boy put the gun in his pocket before recess and the administration's response was “he has little pockets.”[3] Around 13:00 another teacher reported the boy had shown a child the gun and threatened to shoot him if he told. At around 1 pm, a third educator reported to the authorities that a student, who had been scared and in tears, had admitted that the shooter had displayed a gun to him during the break and threatened to shoot him if he disclosed it to anyone, as per Toscano.

The Newport News School Board voted Wednesday to fire Superintendent Dr. George Parker III and to appoint Dr. Michele Mitchell as interim superintendent in a 5-1 vote.[4] Parker stated that prior to the boy shooting the teacher, a school administrator had been warned that the student might have been in possession of a firearm on school premises. According to the superintendent, no weapon was discovered when the backpack was searched.[1] The source of the tip regarding the weapon and the identity of the individual who conducted the search were both unknown.[5]

Diane Toscano, a lawyer representing teacher Abigail Zwerner, said Wednesday that the school administrators responsible for school safety had knowledge of imminent danger but failed to act. “Abby was shot in front of those horrified kids and the school community is living the nightmare all because the school administration failed to act,” she said.[6]

Zwerner was hospitalized for nearly two weeks but has been released and is continuing her recovery on an outpatient basis.[1] “The road to full recovery will be long, and as her physical condition improves, the psychological wounds cut deeply and remain fresh, and the psychological scars will be lasting,” Toscano said.[6]

0. “6-year-old said he wanted to light teacher on fire before shooting: report” Insider, 22 Jan. 2023,

1. “Newport News Public Schools superintendent fired” CBS 6 News Richmond WTVR, 26 Jan. 2023,

2. “Three warnings before US boy, 6, shot teacher – lawyer” BBC, 26 Jan. 2023,

3. “4 warning signs given before Richneck Elem. teacher shot by student: Lawyer” News 3 WTKR Norfolk, 25 Jan. 2023,

4. “Parker out as superintendent in Newport News”, 25 Jan. 2023,

5. “Teacher shot by 6-year-old says school was warned 4 times, announces lawsuit” ABC News, 25 Jan. 2023,

6. “Richneck Elementary leadership ‘failed to act' after 3 warnings boy had gun on day of shooting, attorney says” Daily Press, 25 Jan. 2023,