Virginia teacher allegedly shot by 6-year-old identified, in stable condition

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — A Virginia elementary school teacher allegedly shot by a 6-year-old on Friday is in stable condition, authorities said on Saturday.

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Newport News police Chief Steve Drew said he had met with the victim and her family, whose condition was originally listed as life-threatening after she was wounded at Richneck Elementary School in Newport News, WVEC-TV reported.

In a news conference Friday night, officials said the shooting was not accidental, according to the television station. Officials added that the shooting happened inside a first-grade classroom.

While authorities have not identified the victim, the president of James Madison University tweeted that she was Abby Zwermer, 25, of Williamsburg, who graduated from the Virginia school in 2020. Since her graduation, Zwermer has been employed by Newport News Public Schools. She is a first-grade teacher, according to Richneck Elementary School’s website.

“All of us at James Madison University are deeply saddened by the reported tragic shooting of JMU alumna Abby Zwerner,” university President Jonathan R. Alger said in a statement. “We offer prayers and best wishes for Abby’s health and recovery and want to do all we can to support Abby, her family and friends.”

In a news release, Newport News Mayor Phillip D. Jones said the biggest question facing police and residents was “how did this happen?”

“Newport News is a strong community, but we are saddened and disheartened by the terrible tragedy that took place at Richneck Elementary School, Jones said. “It is almost impossible to wrap our minds around the fact that a 6-year-old first-grader brought a loaded handgun to school and shot a teacher; however, this is exactly what our community is grappling with today. Our thoughts and prayers are with the teacher and her family, and we are hopeful that she will recover from this ordeal.”

Drew confirmed that the boy was in custody and had a handgun in his possession, WAVY-TV reported.

However, police on Saturday declined to describe what led to the altercation or any other details about what happened in the classroom, according to The Associated Press.

Jones, who also declined to reveal details of the shooting, said that the incident is “a red flag for the country.”

“This is a red flag for the country,” Jones said.

School Superintendent George Parker III said the elementary school will be closed on Monday and Tuesday, according to the television station.

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