Virginia Mother of 6-Year-Old Who Shot Teacher Charged

By Reuters
April 10, 2023US News
Virginia Mother of 6-Year-Old Who Shot Teacher Charged
Police look on as students return to Richneck Elementary in Newport News, Va., on Jan. 30, 2023. (Billy Schuerman/The Virginian-Pilot via AP)

A Virginia grand jury on Monday indicted the mother of a 6-year-old boy who shot an elementary school teacher in Newport News in January on felony child neglect and a firearms charge.

On Jan. 6, 25-year-old teacher Abigail Zwerner was wounded by a first-grade student in her classroom at Richneck Elementary School after school officials received warnings that the boy had a gun at school.

The student’s mother, Deja Taylor, was charged with felony child neglect and misdemeanor recklessly leaving a loaded firearm so as to endanger a child, Newport News, Virginia, prosecutor Howard Gwynn said in a statement.

The indictments are the latest example of prosecutors charging parents of children who commit gun crimes or shootings. Last month, a Michigan appeals court ruled in favor of prosecutors seeking to take the parents of school shooter Ethan Crumbley to trial on involuntary manslaughter charges.

An Illinois father was arraigned in February on charges that he helped his underage son obtain a gun that the latter used to kill seven people at a Fourth of July parade near Chicago, despite signs the younger man was mentally disturbed.

In the Newport News school shooting case, Gwynn said that the grand jury would continue to investigate, and would consider whether additional charges were warranted.

“Every criminal case is unique in its facts, and these facts support these charges, but our investigation into the shooting continues,” Gwynn said.

In Newport News, Zwerner last week filed a $40 million lawsuit against school administrators, alleging they ignored warnings from staff and pupils that the boy had a gun.

School officials have confirmed that they had received warnings that the boy had a gun at school, but that a search of his belongings before the shooting had not turned up any weapon.

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