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Newport News school shooting: 6-year-old’s mom bought gun legally; boy put it in backpack, brought to class

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(NEWPORT NEWS, Va.) — A 6-year-old student took a handgun from his home, put it in his backpack and brought it to his Newport News, Virginia, elementary school where he allegedly shot and injured a teacher, according to police.

Police have interviewed the 6-year-old and his mother in the wake of Friday’s shooting at Richneck Elementary School and determined the gun was legally purchased by the boy’s mother, Newport News Police Chief Steve Drew said at a news conference Monday. The gun was in their home, and the 6-year-old “obtained that firearm,” put it in his backpack and brought it to school, Drew said.

The 6-year-old is accused of shooting 25-year-old teacher Abigail Zwerner in a first grade classroom, police said.

She was initially hospitalized with life-threatening injuries.

“Abigail wanted me to tell you all … that she is in stable condition and she is thankful for the thoughts and prayers,” Drew said Monday.

Zwerner was giving class instruction when the student pointed the gun at her and fired one round, Drew said, adding that there was no physical struggle or fight.

Zwerner took a defensive position and raised her hand, and the bullet went through her hand and then into her chest, the chief said.

After Zwerner was shot, she ushered all of her students out of the classroom, the chief said, adding that she was the last person to leave that class.

The chief called Zwerner “a hero,” and said she’s repeatedly asked how her students are doing.

No students were injured and the 6-year-old suspect was taken into custody.

The 6-year-old suspect was taken to a hospital for evaluation, Drew said. A temporary detention order was obtained and the child is currently receiving treatment at a medical facility, Drew said Monday.

A motive has not been released. Authorities haven’t elaborated on the altercation between the student and teacher but the police chief told reporters Friday that the shooting was not accidental.

Asked by CNN on Sunday what will happen next for the suspect and if the 6-year-old’s parents could be held responsible, Newport News Mayor Phillip Jones replied, “There’s a lot of questions that we have to answer.”

“Because it remains an investigation, we’re going to let itself work out before we rush to judgment at this time,” Jones said. “The individuals responsible will be held accountable — I can promise that.”

ABC News’ Meredith Deliso, Ivan Pereira and Ben Siu contributed to this report.


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