Virginia 6 year old Newport News boy who shot teacher wont face charges cause he doesn’t have competency to understand legal system. Parents still may face charges if it is proven they did not properly secure gun.
Virginia prosecutors have decided it would be too ‘problematic’ to criminally charge a Virginia first-grade boy who shot his teacher in front of his classmates earlier this year — while leaving open that they still might hold the child’s parents criminally liable.
‘There is likely no legal basis to charge the 6-year-old because he wouldn’t have the competency to understand the legal system or the magnitude of the charges,’ Newport News Commonwealth’s Attorney Howard Gwynn told NBC News.
The ‘prospect that a 6-year-old can stand trial is problematic,’ the city prosecutor said.
The boy’s parents, however, could find themselves facing charges if it is still proven that the 9mm handgun the child brought to Richneck Elementary School on Jan. 6 and fired on 25-year-old Abigail Zwerner was not properly secured.
One Virginia law prohibits leaving a loaded gun where it is accessible to a child under 14, a misdemeanor crime punishable with a maximum one-year prison sentence and a $2,500 fine.
Richnech elementary school teacher shot trying to confiscate gun, 6 year old Virginia boy unlikely to be charged https://t.co/1X200WB9fj #Abigail Zwerner #Abby Zwerner #Newport News #Newport News shooting #AbbyZwerner
— Scallywagandvagabond (@ScallywagNYC) January 9, 2023
Parents insist gun was properly secured
The parents — who have not been legally charged — have maintained that the legally purchased weapon was secured on a top shelf in the mother’s closet and had a trigger lock.
It is not clear how the boy was able to grab the firearm, hide it in his backpack and shoot Zwerner as she sat at a reading table.
Officials noted the 9mm Taurus handgun was legally purchased by the child’s mother in York County. The child was able to gain access to the weapon and sneak it into the school in his backpack. While only one round was fired, Newport News police chief Steve Drew previously said there were multiple rounds inside the gun’s magazine and the shooting was not accidental.
In a similar Virginia case that occurred just a month after the Newport News shooting, a Norfolk mother was booked with several charges just one day after her 6-year-old brought her handgun into class — an incident that left no injuries.
‘In our case, the police decided to turn the file over to us to make a decision,’ Gwynn said. ‘And we have to make our decision based on our ability to prove beyond a reasonable doubt a crime occurred.’
‘Our objective is not just to do something as quickly as possible. Once we analyze all the facts, we will charge any person or persons that we believe we can prove beyond a reasonable doubt committed a crime.’
If charges are made in the case, it would either be through a grand jury or in consultation with police, Gwynn said. Zwerner survived the shooting and is now pursuing legal action against the school district for not taking her concerns about the ‘problem student’ seriously enough in the weeks leading up to the shooting.
A 6 year old boy was given a one-day suspension for breaking teachers cellphone & returned the next day with a 9mm handgun and shot teacher. The city prosecutor in Newport News, Virginia, today said that he would not seek charges. What about the parents? pic.twitter.com/CdNAFWuPjF
— CoastPatriot1 (@CoastPatriot1) March 9, 2023
Repeat problem child
The 25-year-old teacher claims the student has a history of behavioral issues that was repeatedly reported to administrators.
Just two days before the shooting, the boy had an angry interaction with Zwerner in which he ‘slammed’ down her cellphone and broke it.
He was given a one-day suspension — but returned to class the following day with his mother’s handgun.
The young shooter was moved to another class in another school in the district, officials said.