Virginia school warned of 6-year-old teacher being shot dead, lawyer says

Jan 25 (Reuters) – Authorities at a Virginia school were warned three times that a first grader had a gun before shooting and wounding his teacher, her lawyer said on Wednesday as the board prepared to vote on whether the superintendent should be ousted over the school incident.

Abigail Zwerner, 25, was “deliberately shot dead” in front of other students at Richneck Elementary School in Newport News earlier this month after the administration ignored warnings that the six-year-old student posed a threat, attorney Diane Toscano told a news conference.

The warnings lasted more than three hours on the day of the shooting, according to Toscano, who said she plans to file a lawsuit against the Newport News School District on Zwerner’s behalf.

“This tragedy was entirely preventable if the school administration responsible for school safety had done their part and taken action when they were aware of an imminent threat,” Toscano said. She did not say what damages she would seek for the teacher injured in the chest.

The school district declined to comment.

Superintendent George Parker, who is under pressure after saying at least one administrator knew the boy might have had a gun on the day of the shooting, will face a school board vote on his at a special meeting scheduled for Wednesday future faced.

Zwerner was the first to tell a school administrator on the morning of January 6 that the student had threatened to beat up another child, but the boy was not removed from class, according to Toscano. The administrator was not named.

In the afternoon, a second teacher, who suspected the boy had a gun, found no gun when she searched his book bag. She then told the same administrator that she believed the boy put the gun in his pocket before going on break, the attorney said.

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Toscano said another student told a third teacher that the boy showed him a gun during recess and threatened to shoot him if he told anyone. The teacher reported the account to the school administration, she said.

A fourth employee who learned of the threat asked permission to search the boy but was refused by the same school security officer, the attorney said.

“He was told to wait out the situation because the school day was almost over. Tragically, nearly an hour later, violence erupted at Ridge Elementary School,” Toscano said.

Police plan to present the findings of an inquiry to the Commonwealth Attorney at Newport News, who would make all decisions on possible charges against the boy’s mother.

Reporting by Tyler Clifford in New York; Edited by Daniel Wallis

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