Hero teacher improving in hospital after six-year-old pupil shoots her deliberately in 'altercation'

8 January 2023, 08:55

Ms Zwerner was praised for her actions
Ms Zwerner was praised for her actions. Picture: Facebook/Getty

By Will Taylor

The hero teacher who was shot by a six-year-old pupil has shown signs of improvement, as authorities said she was wounded during an "altercation".

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Abby Zwerner was taken to hospital in a critical condition after the shooting at Richneck Elementary School in Newport News, Virginia, on Friday.

Parents spoke about how she screamed for children to flee after being hit.

Police are investigating how such a young child was able to get hold of a handgun and use it, but said they believe it was not accidental.

Chief of police Steve Drew said it happened during an "altercation" and the city's mayor, Phillip Jones, said the "word altercation was a valid one, and one that I would use".

"We don't have all the answers about how a six-year-old was able to handle a firearm or how a six-year-old was able to access a firearm," he said.

"This is a dark day in our history and I think this is a red flag for the country."

The six-year-old could not be tried as an adult under law in Virginia.

Read more: Child, 6, 'deliberately' shoots hero teacher and leaves her in life-threatening condition

Ms Zwerner is said to be improving in hospital
Ms Zwerner is said to be improving in hospital. Picture: Facebook

State services have been asked to intervene for the boy.

All the other pupils at the more-than 500 student school were safe.

Ms Zwerner, who is said to be in her 30s, has been praised for her actions.

Steve Gonzalez-Hernandez said she "screamed at her kids to run away" and added: "Even after she'd been shot she was thinking about the safety of her children."

The shooting broke out at Richneck Elementary School
The shooting broke out at Richneck Elementary School. Picture: Getty
Police believe the shooting was not an accident
Police believe the shooting was not an accident. Picture: Getty

He told the Mail: "My son didn't see what happened, he heard the gunshot go off, and turned around to see Miss Zwerner on the floor.

"She is an amazing teacher, so dedicated.

"My son absolutely loves her, and we're devastated about what's happened. We are all thinking of her and hoping that she gets better soon."

A grandmother of one of the pupils had complained that a child brought bullets to the school the week before but the school said they were nerf bullets.

Dr George Parker, the school district head, said: "When we have a perceived threat or issue, we do random metal detection on those days.

"Today, our students got a lesson in gun violence. We need to keep the guns out of the hands of our young people."

Lessons on Monday were called off at the school.

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