Shot by 6-year-old, Virginia teacher is out of the hospital

21 January 2023

(NewsNation) — The Virginia teacher who rushed her students out of the classroom to safety after being shot by a 6-year-old was released from the hospital this past week, a hospital spokesman has confirmed.

“Abby (Zwerner) was released earlier this week from Riverside Regional Medical Center, a Riverside Health System facility in Newport News, VA,” according to a statement provided to NewsNation affiliate WAVY. “She continues her recovery as an outpatient with the support of family, friends and health professionals. The Zwerner family respectfully asks for privacy during this time.”

Zwerner, 25, was teaching at Richneck Elementary School in Newport News on Jan. 6 when a student, 6, shot her with a gun brought from home. She still was able to get her students out of the room before being rushed to the hospital.

The parents of the child accused of pulling the trigger also released a statement this week.

“Our son suffers from 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,” the statement said.

However, the boy’s parents said the shooting occurred the first week they were not in the classroom.

“Our family has always been committed to responsible gun ownership and keeping firearms out of the reach of children. The firearm our son accessed was secured,” the statement continued. The family’s lawyer says the gun was on a top shelf over 6 feet high, and had a lock that requires a key.

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The 6-year-old’s family said the child has been under hospital care for treatment.

An investigation is ongoing. No charges have been filed against the first grader or his parents, and given his age, it’s unlikely any will come.

Police say the school, Richneck Elementary, received a tip the day of the shooting that the boy had potentially brought a weapon to school, but his bag was searched, and nothing was found.
Now, parents and teachers are demanding better security.

“I want behaviors held accountable. I want change,” one teacher said. “I don’t want to have another family dinner where I talk about where my kids will hide in school. I would rather be discussing archery practice or the adventures of a fourth-grade safety patrol.”

Newport News uses metal detectors in middle and high schools. Now, metal detectors will be installed in its elementary schools.

In a message to Richneck Elementary families sent on Thursday, Jan. 19, interim principal Karen Lynch said the school, which is currently closed, will soon announce a date for students to begin transitioning back into the building.

NewsNation local affiliate WAVY contributed to this report.

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