Newport News Public Schools
Richneck Entrance

Mother of 6-year-old who shot teacher faces felony charge

April 11, 2023
25-year-old mother in Virginia has been charged with child neglect after her son brought a gun to school and shot his first-grade teacher.

The mother of the 6-year-old boy who shot his first-grade teacher in Virginia has been charged with felony child neglect.

The Daily Press reports that Deja Nicole Taylor, 25, of Newport News, Va. — whose son shot 25-year-old teacher Abby Zwerner during class Jan. 6 — also faces a misdemeanor count of recklessly leaving a firearm so as to endanger a child.

Newport News prosecutors also asked a judge to impanel a special grand jury to “continue the investigation into any security issues that may have contributed to this shooting.” This could include looking at administrators at Richneck Elementary, where the shooting occurred, the Newport News school system and others.

The charges against the boy’s mother “come after a thorough investigation by Newport News Police Department and this office,” the the Newport News commonwealth’s attorney’s office said. “The facts and the law support charging Deja Taylor” with the felony and misdemeanor counts.

Prosecutors ruled out charging the 6-year-old, saying he’s too young to have formed the criminal intent necessary.

The news that a 6-year-old student shot his teacher during class made headlines around the world.

As the boy sat at his desk in classroom, he suddenly pulled a gun out of his front hoodie pocket, pointed it at his teacher — seated at a reading table less than 10 feet away — and fired a single round.

The bullet went through Zwerner’s left hand — which she held up as the boy opened fire — and then struck her in the upper chest and shoulder, where it remains today. 

Zwerner managed to shuttle about 18 students out of the classroom before seeking help at a school office.

Police Chief Steve Drew later said the 6-year-old used his mother’s handgun, a Taurus 9mm, in the shooting. She legally purchased the firearm, and the boy brought it to school in his backpack.

In a lawsuit filed last week against the Newport News School Board and three administrators, Zwerner contends that Richneck Assistant Principal Ebony Parker ignored several stark warnings that the boy had a gun on him that day.

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