The six-year-old boy who intentionally fired a gun at his first-grade teacher Abby Zwerner was on the verge of having the weapon confiscated and, due to his age, may never face criminal charges.
The first-grade class at Richneck Elementary School in Newport News, Virginia, had just finished reading a story and were on their way to an art lesson when the boy pulled out the handgun.
‘She was going to confiscate it, and that’s when he shot,’ Brittaney Gregory, whose son was also in the class, told the Washington Post.
The children then raced out of the classroom and into another one, where they stayed in a lockdown.
Abby Zwerner, the boy’s first-grade teacher, was rushed to the hospital on Friday with critical injuries.
Although the child is still in custody, it is unlikely that he will ever face criminal charges.
‘As a practical matter, prosecuting a six-year-old, no matter how serious, would be next to impossible,’ said Andrew Block, associate professor at the University of Virginia School of Law.
According to Block, the ‘infancy defense’ states that children under the age of seven do not have the mental capacity to form the intent to commit a crime.
‘The bigger hurdle, assuming the prosecution can overcome that, is that all defendants must be competent to stand trial,’ Block explained. ‘This means you must understand the nature of the legal proceedings against you and assist in your own defense. A six-year-old cannot possibly meet that requirement.
‘The juvenile justice system would be unprepared to deal with such a young child.’
An adult could face misdemeanor charges because, according to Virginia law, guns must be kept away from children under the age of 14.
Her son has had nightmares in the nights since the shooting.
‘He normally sleeps in his own room but the night of the shooting he came into my room. He was talking in his sleep, saying we got to get out of here,’ Gregory said. She is now planning to take her son to a therapist this week.
Gregory believes her son was deeply affected by what he saw and experienced.
‘He’s normally a talker, but he stumbled over his words. I was so relieved,’ she added. ‘But you could tell on his face what he was going through. He was a deer in the headlights.’
‘The individual is a six-year-old student and is right now in police custody,’ Chief Drew said at a press conference on Friday. ‘This was not an accidental shooting.
‘It was in a classroom, an altercation took place there,’ he said. ‘We did not have a situation where someone was going around the school shooting. We had a situation in one particular location where a gunshot was fired.’
Classes have been canceled on Monday and Tuesday for all of the 550 students at the school which teaches from kindergarten through to the fifth grade.
‘It’s very devastating,’ Gregory said of the shooting, never believing such a thing would be possible in her son’s school. ‘It’s sad that such a young child holds so much anger.’
A grandmother of one of the students told DailyMail.com that a student brought ‘shiny gold bullets’ to school last week, but it is unclear if it is the same child who was taken into custody today.
Speaking to DailyMail.com, she said: ‘The parents outside stated that their child told them a kid brought golden shiny bullets to school and was thinking about bringing his gun. The student told the parent, who informed the school.
‘And the school just yesterday got back to the parent saying the parent of the kid said it was a nerf bullet and the parent said nerf bullets aren’t shiny and gold.’
She was not positive if the child who brought in the ‘bullets’ is the same child allegedly involved in last week’s shooting.
Sebastian Gonzalez-Hernandez, one of Zwerner’s parents, confirmed his identity.
He said ‘she screamed at her kids to run away’ after the student fired a single bullet.
‘Even after she was shot, she was concerned about her children’s safety,’ Gonzalez-Hernandez said.
His own six-year-old, whom he declined to identify, was in the classroom when the gunshot rang out.
‘My son didn’t see what happened; he heard the gunshot and turned around to see Miss Zwerner on the floor,’ he said on Friday to DailyMail.com.
‘She is an amazing teacher who is very dedicated. My son adores her, and we are devastated by what has occurred. We’re all thinking about her and hoping she feels better soon.’