Virginia elementary school shooting: Newport News schools closed Friday to give students ‘time to heal’


A Virginia elementary school where a 6-year-old boy allegedly shot and wounded a teacher on Friday will be closed this week to give students “time to recover,” the school announced.

Within a week of New Year’s, police swarmed the Richneck Elementary School campus in Newport News — which still has a “Happy New Year” sign outside — and took children into custody.

Police Chief Steve Drew said the boy shot the teacher in the classroom and it was “not an accidental shooting.” As of Friday, the boy remained in police custody.

Drew said there was an altercation between the teacher and the student who had the gun before the shooting was fired. He added that only one shot was fired and no other students were involved.

“We’ve been in touch with our federal prosecutors and a number of other entities to help us best serve this young man,” Drew said Friday.

The teacher, initially described as life-threatening, was in stable condition Saturday, according to the Newport News Police Department.

The teacher was first identified as Abby Zwerner by her alma mater, James Madison University.

Newport News Public Schools Superintendent George Parker said the elementary school had contingency plans in place to provide immediate medical care for the injured teacher.

“While no amount of planning can guarantee that a tragedy like this will not happen; please know that our collective efforts and preparations have provided immediate medical attention to our faculty, no students were injured, and a safe environment for our families and students An efficient reunion process,” Parker said.

Newport News Virginia Richneck school shooting

Police investigating after first grader shot dead his teacher

District officials told CNN on Monday that no resource officer was assigned to the school. Only middle and high schools have a resource officer on campus, while elementary schools have unarmed security guards, the district said.

Richneck Elementary School shares a security guard with a nearby school, and the district could not tell CNN which school the security guard was at when the shooting occurred.

The district also could not tell CNN whether the 6-year-old had been disciplined in any way prior to the shooting.

Community members are grappling with what happened as the investigation continues and police investigate how the young boy obtained the gun and what led to the shooting.

“It’s a very difficult thing to deal with,” Newport News Mayor Philip Jones told CNN on Sunday. “The fact that we have a 6-year-old who is capable of bringing a gun into a school and hurting his teacher — we’re still trying to figure that out.”

The mayor would not comment on the children’s families or their involvement in the investigation.

“As a community, we have to answer a lot of questions,” the mayor added. “Forget it, how can a 6-year-old child have a gun and use it so consciously…the person responsible will be held accountable.” I can guarantee it. ”

Police Chief Steve Drew Newport News

Police chief answers questions after he says 6-year-old school shot teacher

Friday’s shooting was the first in an American school in 2023, according to a CNN analysis. But school shootings in the United States are far more common than in any other country. In 2022, there will be 79 shootings in K-12 schools, according to a CNN analysis.

Students and a grandmother who was at the school at the time described the harrowing moments following Friday’s shooting.

“We were doing math … an announcer came up and she said, ‘Block, I repeat block,'” said Novah Jones, a fifth-grader who was not in the room where the shooting took place.

“I was terrified … it was like I was locked down for the first time and I didn’t know what to do so I was hiding under the table like everyone else.”

Nova initially believed there was a man with a gun at the school, she said in an interview with CNN about her and her mother.

“I was thinking … a man was going to shoot us,” Nova said.

Lawonda Sample-Rusk said a faculty member ran to the main office to say a teacher had been shot and she was picking up her grandson from school when the shooting occurred.

She said she was terrified when gunfire erupted in one of her grandson’s classrooms. “I was about to walk to their classroom by myself, but the teacher who was shot ran into the office,” Sample-Rusk told CNN. “She was saying ‘Call 911! Call 911!'”

Sample-Rusk said the teacher fell to his knees and then crawled behind a desk. A receptionist used a code on an intercom to tell other faculty that the school would be on lockdown.

Sample-Rusk said there were three or four other people with the teacher, and everyone was helping her.

“The wound was on her chest and everyone took turns applying pressure to her wound and trying to keep her awake,” Sample-Rusk said, adding that first responders arrived within minutes.

Parents rushed to the scene as word of the shooting spread, living through the same nightmare experienced by families of students at many other schools across the country.

When Mark Anthony Garcia discovered the shooting, he ran to the school, where his son was in second grade.

“There were police helicopters all over the place, traffic jams,” he told “CNN This Morning” on Monday. “Then there’s a cordon with a 2-mile radius against parked cars and people running, trying to actually get to the scene.”

Garcia’s son, Mark Jr., said his teacher heard the gunshots and led his class back to the classroom, “and then when we got there, we all kept quiet.”

“There were two people crying,” he said. “We were heading towards the stadium when the police came.”

The police chief told CNN affiliate WTKR that after the shooting, all students at the school were evacuated from classrooms along with teachers and taken to the gymnasium where they were with counselors and officers.

While she was able to get home safely, Nova said she couldn’t sleep that night, worried “he’s still got the gun and he’s coming to my house.”

“I love flashbacks,” Nova said.

In an update on its website, Richneck Elementary said licensed therapists are available to help parents with techniques for talking to their children, counseling services and referrals to resources.

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