Howard Gwynn, the Commonwealth’s Attorney for Newport News, Virginia, told CNN affiliate WTKR that the 6-year-old boy who is said to have shot his elementary school teacher earlier this year will not be charged with a crime.
On January 6, the student is said to have shot and hurt Abigail Zwerner, a teacher at Richneck Elementary School. A bullet hit her chest, leaving her in critical condition. After being shot, she stayed in the hospital for more than a week.
Gwynn told WTKR Wednesday-
“After researching this issue thoroughly, we do not believe the law supports charging and convicting a 6-year-old with aggravated assault”
“I can say the prosecutorial efforts are focused on determining what the facts are, applying those facts to the law, and determining whether we can charge anyone with a crime that we can prove beyond a reasonable doubt”
NBC News was the first to report on the prosecutor’s decision. The shooting scared the people in the area and angered the parents whose kids were traumatized by yet another shooting at an American school.
In the weeks that followed, school and district leaders got a lot of criticism for how they handled the situation and how they might have missed warning signs before the violence. At least two officials quit their jobs because of this.
More Than A Month Was Spent On The Investigation By The Police
At the end of the previous month, the Newport News Police Department announced that they had concluded their investigation into the incident and handed over their findings to the office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney.
“We had a lot of witnesses, a lot of students, a lot of children to interview and that took a long process,” police chief Steve Drew said in a February 21 Facebook live briefing. “It’s not something we wanted to rush through.”
Gwynn stated to CNN in February that his office had been sent with “three binders” worth of investigative data from the police and that they would also be studying hours worth of body camera footage from the police.
Gwynn told CNN on February 24 that his office was reviewing the facts at the time, and he added, “Any person we can charge and convict beyond a reasonable doubt, we will charge.” These comments are very similar to the ones that he made to the station this week.
During an interview in January with CNN, the chief of police stated that there was “definitely a potential” that the mother of the 6-year-old kid may face charges in connection with the gunshot that occurred in January.
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About The Boy, What We Know
Authorities haven’t said much about the child who is said to have shot at his teacher. In a statement released roughly two weeks after the shooting, the boy’s family said the “firearm our son accessed was secured.” The family’s statement went on to say that the child has an “acute disability and was under a care plan at the school that included his mother or father attending school with him and accompanying him to class every day.”
In a statement, the boy’s parents said that the week of the shooting was the first time they weren’t in class with him. They added, “We will regret our absence on this day for the rest of our lives.”
In a later statement to CNN, the lawyer for the child’s family said the gun was kept on the top shelf of the closet in the mother’s bedroom and was locked with a trigger lock. He did not say how the boy got to the gun. Authorities say that the gun was bought in a legal way.
After the shooting, worried people in the community asked school officials for weeks how they had handled other cases of allegedly violent behavior. Zwerner’s lawyer sent a legal notice to the Newport News School Board on January 24 saying that the boy had a history of bad behavior, such as swearing at staff, trying to whip students with his belt, and choking a teacher.
According to that document, the student was suspended for a day because he allegedly “slammed” and broke Zwerner’s cell phone and cursed at guidance counselors. The notice said that when he went back to Zwerner’s classroom after being suspended, he shot her.
The Boy’s Former Principal Said He Didn’t Know He Had A Gun
The teacher’s lawyer has also said that the gun was reported to school officials more than once on the day of the shooting. “Over the course of a few hours, three different times – three times – school administration was warned by concerned teachers and employees that the boy had a gun on him at the school and was threatening people,” attorney Diane Toscano told reporters in a late January news conference.
Toscano said that the government “failed to act” even though they “knew of imminent danger.” An attorney for Briana Foster Newton, the former principal of the elementary school, said that her client didn’t know the student had a gun at school that day. After the shooting, Newton was given a new job.
“The fact of the matter is that those who were aware that the student may have had a gun on the premises that day did not report this to Mrs. Newton at all,” her attorney, Pamela Branch, said in February. Branch didn’t say who might have known that day that the student had a gun.
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