Newport News Public Schools
Richneck Entrance 640b3641ddc21
Richneck Entrance 640b3641ddc21
Richneck Entrance 640b3641ddc21
Richneck Entrance 640b3641ddc21
Richneck Entrance 640b3641ddc21

Mother of 6-year-old who shot teacher pleads guilty to child neglect

Aug. 15, 2023
Deja Taylor admits that she failed to secure the handgun that her son used to shoot his first-grade teacher at a Newport News, Virginia, elementary school.

The mother of a 6-year-old boy who shot his teacher earlier this year in Virginia has pleaded guilty to felony child neglect.

The Associated Press reports that Deja Taylor entered the plea seven months after her son used her handgun to wound his first-grade teacher, Abby Zwerner, in a classroom full of students at Richneck Elementary School in Newport News.

Prosecutors agreed to drop a misdemeanor charge of reckless storage of a firearm. As part of the plea agreement, prosecutors say they will not seek a sentence that is longer than state sentencing guidelines, which call for six months in jail or prison. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for Oct. 27.

Police said the first grader intentionally shot Zwerner as she sat at a reading table during a lesson. Zwerner, who was hit in the hand and chest, spent nearly two weeks in the hospital and has undergone multiple surgeries.

Police said the student brought the gun to school in his backpack.

During Taylor’s plea hearing, a prosecutor said the boy told authorities he got the gun by climbing onto a drawer to reach the top of a dresser, where the gun was stored in his mother’s purse.

Taylor told police she believed the gun was in her purse, secured with a trigger lock. She said she kept the gunlock key under her bedroom mattress. But investigators said they never found a trigger lock after conducting searches, according to federal court documents. Court documents also said there was no gun safe or trigger lock found during searches by authorities.

In May, Taylor told ABC’s “Good Morning America” that she feels responsible and apologized to Zwerner.

“That is my son, so I am, as a parent, obviously willing to take responsibility for him because he can’t take responsibility for himself,” Taylor said.

Sponsored Recommendations

Schedule an AIA Course Presentation

Get closer to completing your annual AIA Continuing Education requirement.. Our continuing education courses will get you that much closer to completi…