On Monday a Virginia grand jury indicted the mother of a 6-year-old boy who allegedly shot his teacher in January.
The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported that Deja Nicole Taylor, 25, has been charged with child neglect and a misdemeanor for recklessly leaving a firearm to endanger a child. Taylor’s son, who has not been publicly named or prosecuted, allegedly shot and killed 25-year-old teacher Abigail Zwerner at Richneck Elementary School.
In addition to indicting Taylor, prosecutors have also requested a special grand jury to investigate mitigating circumstances that may have contributed to the shooting. The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported that this could involve an investigation into the school administration.
According to the news outlet, the boy was seated at a desk less than 10 feet from Zwerner, who was seated at a reading table, when he brandished the gun and opened fire. The bullet reportedly traveled first through Zwerner’s left hand before hitting her in the chest and shoulder. The bullet is still in her body today.
School documents said Zwerner had emailed administrators throughout the school year about the boy’s behavior reports and problems.
In late November, Zwerner reportedly wrote to then-Principal Briana Foster-Newton and then-Deputy Principal Dr. Ebony Parker on incidents where the boy stuck his middle finger on a classmate and collided with another student while running before throwing her to the ground.
“To this day I’m not comfortable with him returning to my classroom today…” Zwerner reportedly wrote.
In a second email, Zwerner reportedly told them she had set up a meeting with the boy’s father to address “behavioural difficulties” and provide the boy with support.
Weeks later, on January 6, the 6-year-old boy allegedly shot Zwerner as she was teaching 20 other students. The gun he used allegedly belonged to Taylor, who legally acquired it.
Superintendent George Parker III previously stated that “at least one administrator” was aware of a possible weapon in the boy’s possession before the shooting. On the day of the shooting, the boy was reportedly late for school and his backpack was inspected at the reception office.
It remains unclear why the weapon was not found during this check.
Zwerner’s lawyer Diane Toscano has claimed that three teachers, including Zwerner, went to administrative authorities on the day of the shooting about the boy’s behavior. Zwerner reportedly told administration the student threatened to beat up a classmate. Another teacher is said to have later told the administration officials that they had searched his backpack.
Although the gun was not found, the teacher reportedly said the gun could be in the boy’s pocket.
According to Toscano, a third teacher informed school officials that the boy pulled out a gun during recess and threatened to shoot a classmate if he told the story. The lawyer also claimed that another teacher asked to search the boy, but administrators denied the request, saying they wanted to “wait.” [out] the situation because the school day was almost over.”
Earlier this month, Zwerner filed a $40 million lawsuit against the Newport News School Board and several school district officials for negligence and ignoring multiple warnings that the 6-year-old had a gun.
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[Featured image: Abigail Zwerner/GoFundMe]
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