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Richneck Newport News

Virginia school had received tip about gun before teacher was shot by first-grader

Jan. 15, 2023
Staff at Richneck Elementary School in Newport News search the 6-year-old boy's backpack but did not find a weapon.

Administrators at the Newport News, Va., school where a first-grader shot his teacher were told before the shooting that the child may have had a weapon in his possession, but they did not find the gun despite searching his bag.

The Associated Press reports that police say they were not told about the tip before the Jan. 6 shooting at Richneck Elementary School. Some time after the shooting, investigators found out that a school employee was notified of a possible gun at the school.

The student’s backpack was searched after school officials received the tip, but the gun wasn’t found.

Superintendent George Parker told parents during an online meeting last week that at least one school administrator was notified the boy may have a weapon.

A district spokeswoman declined to say who reported that the boy may have had a weapon and whether school officials should have taken additional steps after the weapon was not found in his backpack.

The teacher, Abigail Zwerner, 25, was shot in the chest. She has been reported in stable condition at a hospital.

In the aftermath of the shooting, Newport News School Board Chair Lisa Surles-Law said the district will install metal detectors at all schools.

The Jan. 6 shooting occurred as Zwerner was teaching her class. Authorities said there was no warning and no struggle before the 6-year-old boy pointed the gun at Zwerner.

Police said the child used his mother’s gun, which had been purchased legally. It’s unclear how he gained access to the weapon.

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