Vigil planned for teacher who police say was shot by student | lifestyle

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (AP) — Authorities plan to offer an update Monday on the shooting death of a Virginia elementary school teacher by a 6-year-old student, and the community will hold a candlelight vigil later.

The Newport News Police Department said the police chief, mayor and school superintendent will hold a press conference at 4 p.m. to discuss Friday’s shooting at Richneck Elementary School. A vigil for injured teacher Abby Zwerner is planned for 6:30 p.m.

Police Chief Steve Drew said the boy shot Zwerner with a handgun in his first-grade classroom on Friday. Shortly after the shooting, police said Zwerner had life-threatening injuries but was recovering and listed in stable condition at a local hospital.

Principal Briana Foster Newton said in an update on the school’s website that Zwerner was able to speak with family and friends. The school will be closed during the week.

The boy was later taken to a police cell. Drew said the shooting was not random and was part of an argument. No students were injured.

Police declined to describe what led to the altercation or other details about what happened in the classroom, citing the ongoing investigation. They also declined to say how the boy got the gun or who owns the gun.

Virginia law does not allow 6-year-olds to be tried as adults. In addition, the 6-year-old boy is too young to be placed in the custody of the Department of Juvenile Justice 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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