6-year-old Virginia who shot teacher won’t be charged, but parents can still be prosecuted
Virginia prosecutors have basically decided it would be too “problematic” to prosecute a Virginia first grader who earlier this year criticized his teacher in front of classmates, but has not yet decided whether they will prosecute his parents.
According to Newport News Commonwealth Attorney Howard Gwynn, there is likely no legal basis for the 6-year-old to be charged because he is not competent to understand the legal system or the scope of the charges.
“The prospect of a 6-year-old being put on trial is problematic,” the city attorney said.
The boy’s parents, however, could face charges if evidence proves the 9mm pistol was not secured when their son brought it to Richneck Elementary School on January 6 and shot 25-year-old Abigail Zwerner.
One of the laws of the state of Virginia prohibits leaving a loaded weapon in a place accessible to a child under 14 years old, which is an offense punishable by imprisonment for up to one year and a fine of $2,500.
The parents, who were not legally charged, alleged that the legally acquired weapon was stored on the top shelf in the mother’s closet and had a trigger.
It is not clear how the boy was able to grab a firearm, hide it in a backpack, and shoot Zwerner while she was sitting at the reading table.
In a similar case in Virginia that came just a month after the Newport News shooting, a Norfolk mother was charged with multiple charges just a day after her 6-year-old brought her gun to class — an incident that left no injuries. .
“In our case, the police decided to refer the case to us for a decision,” Gwynn said. “And we must make our decision based on our ability to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the crime took place.”
“Our goal is not just to do something as quickly as possible. Once we have analyzed all the facts, we will indict any person or persons who we believe can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime has been committed.”
If charges are brought in the case, Gwynn said, it will either be through a grand jury or after consultation with the police.
Zwerner survived the shooting and is now suing the school district for not taking her concerns about a student seriously enough in the weeks leading up to the shooting.
The 25-year-old teacher claims that the student had behavioral issues that were repeatedly reported to administrators.
Just two days before the shooting, the boy had an angry conversation with Zwerner, during which he “thrown” her mobile phone and broke it.
He was given a one-day suspension, but returned to class the next day with his mother’s gun.
The young shooter was transferred to another class at another school in the area, officials said.
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