NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (AP) — The 6-year-old Virginia student who shot and wounded his teacher picked up a gun, pointed it at her and fired as she taught his first grade class, a police chief said Monday.
Newport News Police Chief Steve Drew offered the first account Monday of the shooting that shocked the city and was remarkable even in a country like the United States that seems accustomed to constant gun violence. Drew previously said the shooting was not random and declined to elaborate.
He said the student pulled out a gun, pointed it at the teacher and shot her. He said there was no physical struggle for the gun before the shots were fired. No students were injured.
Drew said the gun was legally purchased by the child’s mother in York County. It was at the child’s residence, he put it in his backpack and brought it to school, the chief said.
The teacher who was wounded in Friday’s shooting, Abby Zwerner, was listed in stable condition at a local hospital Monday. Describing her as a hero, Drew said he spoke to her and one of her biggest concerns was for her students.
Drew said after the shooting that the boy was physically restrained by a school employee and struck the employee. The boy was taken away in a police car.
Drew initially said the boy pulled a gun from his backpack just before the shooting, but later clarified that the student had a “gun on him” just before he fired.
A tenderloin in Zwerner’s honor was planned for Monday at 6:30 p.m
Principal Briana Foster Newton said in an update on the school’s website that the school will be closed this week.
Police declined to describe what led to the altercation or other details about what happened in the classroom, citing the ongoing investigation.
Virginia law does not allow 6-year-olds to be tried as adults. Additionally, the 6-year-old boy is too young to be placed in Department of Justice Juvenile custody if convicted. Authorities did not say where the boy was being held.
On Monday morning, several parents, grandparents and community members gathered with the local pastor on the open lawn in front of the school.
Among them was parent Eric Billet, who said each of his three children in the Newport News school system, two of whom attend Richneck, reacted differently to the shooting.
Billet’s son, who is in middle school, expressed concern about school safety and told his father he felt safer at theme parks, which the boy claimed had better security than his school. His second-grade son is doing better, Billet said, punching an officer as he walked out of school Friday.
His daughter, a fourth-grader, had nightmares every night, Billet said.
But at the same time, he said: “She was also disappointed that she couldn’t go to school this week.”
Lavoie reported from Richmond.
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