First-Grade Teacher Injured in Shooting


Morgan Fuerstenberg graphic

In Virginia, the six-year-old accused of shooting and injuring his first-grade teacher, Abby Zwerner, had been noted by faculty members for behaving violently towards students and staff.

In a legal notice filed by Zwerner’s attorney, the accused child, who has been kept anonymous due to his age, reportedly had prior behavioral issues in the classroom, including several incidents where he would curse at students and staff as well as chase his fellow classmates with the intent of trying to whip them with his belt. He had also allegedly snuck up behind another teacher and choked her “until she couldn’t breathe.”

In the notice, it claimed that two days before the shooting, the six- year-old had grabbed Zwerner’s phone and “slammed” it against a desk, causing it to break. He received a one-day suspension. Afterward, he pulled a 9mm handgun out of his pocket and shot Zwerner when she attempted to take the gun from him.

According to the filing, another teacher overheard the six-year-old on the day of the shooting threatening a kindergartener and “angrily stared down the security officer.”

When several teachers went to school administration out of concern about the six-year-old having a weapon, they were denied the right to search the six-year-old because “the school day was almost over.”

Virginia authorities stated that Zwerner sustained “life-threatening” injuries after the bullet had gone through her hand and into her chest. She was released from the hospital a few days after the shooting.

Zwerner’s attorney has made it clear that the 25-year-old first-grade teacher intends to sue the school district, citing their failure to react to several incidents where Zwerner, in the months leading up to the shooting, had requested that the boy be removed from her classroom.

The six-year-old’s parents have released a statement, stating “Our heart goes out to our son’s teacher, and we pray for her healing in the aftermath of such an unimaginable tragedy as she selflessly served our son and the children in the school.”

They continued by saying the gun was legally purchased by the boy’s mother and safely secured in their house. Their statement did not explain how their son had obtained the weapon.

Zwerner has received a lot of praise since the incident, including a resolution from the Virginia State Senate. The resolution reads, “despite life-threatening injuries, Abby Zwerner ushered her students to safety in another room and was the last person to exit the classroom where the shooting took place; no students were injured.”

It is unlikely that the six-year- old will be charged with a crime due to his age. The parents may be held criminally liable, but charges against them have yet to be filed.

This case has caused a lot of discussion about gun safety, especially due to another six-year-old in Virginia who brought a gun to school on Feb. 17.

In that incident, no one was injured, and the parents have been charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor and allowing a minor access to a loaded firearm. If found guilty of both charges, the parents can be fined over $5,000 and face up to two years in jail.