Newport News Public Schools
richneck entrance

Newport News, Va., school reopens 3 weeks after first-grader shot his teacher

Jan. 30, 2023
Richneck Elementary School had been closed since Jan. 6, when teacher Abigail Zwerner was wounded by a 6-year-old boy who brought a gun from home.

Three weeks after a first-grade teacher was shot in her classroom by a 6-year-old boy, Richneck Elementary School in Newport News, Va., has reopened.

The Washington Post reports that arriving students passed through newly installed metal detectors Monday morning to enter the school. The classroom where the shooting occurred was shut down, and the students from that class were redirected to another classroom that had been freshly painted and decorated.

Abigail Zwerner, those students’ teacher, was wounded in the chest and hand on Jan. 6 as she was teaching when the boy aimed a handgun at her and fired. She is recovering from her injuries after several days of hospitalization.

Zwerner’s attorney announced that week that she intended to sue the Newport News district for failing to prevent the shooting. The lawyer asserted that school administrators had been warned three times on the day of the shooting that the boy had a gun or had made threats.

On Monday, new administrators greeted parents and students. The assistant principal at the time of the shooting resigned last week; the principal is still employed by the school system, but it is not clear in what role. The school board fired Superintendent George Parker III last weeks after continuing public criticism of how the district handled the incident.

Police said the gun used in the shooting was brought from the boy’s home and belonged to his mother. In a statement issued through their attorney, the child’s family has said the gun was secured. The family’s attorney said the gun was kept on a top shelf of the mother’s bedroom closet and the family was unsure how the boy was able to remove a trigger lock on the gun to keep it from firing.

In the statement, the family also said their son has an “acute disability.”

About the Author

Mike Kennedy | Senior Editor

Mike Kennedy has been writing about education for American School & University since 1999. He also has reported on schools and other topics for The Chicago Tribune, The Kansas City Star, The Kansas City Times and City News Bureau of Chicago. He is a graduate of Michigan State University.

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