Crime /

Mother of 6-Year-old School Shooter Indicted by Grand Jury

The first grader shot Abigail Zwerner on Jan. 6 after bringing his mother's handgun to school

The mother of a six-year-old who shot his teacher at Richneck Elementary School in Newport News, Virginia has been indicted by a grand jury.

Deja Taylor, the student’s mother, has been charged with felony child neglect and one misdemeanor count of recklessly leaving a loaded firearm so as to endanger a child.

Taylor’s six-year-old son brought her 9 mm Taurus pistol to school on Jan. 6 and shot his first-grade teacher, 25-year-old Abigail Zwerner, who sustained serious injuries to her hand. 

The child’s family released a statement saying he “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 family said the shooting occurred during “the first week when [they] were not in class with him.”

Because of the child’s age, he has not been charged with the shooting. 

The gun was reportedly kept on the top shelf of Taylor’s closet with a trigger lock. The family’s attorney, James Ellenson, said it is unclear how the child obtained the gun.

Newport News Commonwealth’s Attorney Howard Gwynn confirmed last month that he was considering charging adults responsible for the student.

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

The teacher is suing the Newport News School District for $40 million in damages. In her complaint, Zwerner alleges that school officials had been repeatedly made aware of concerns about the boy’s behaviors but failed to act. 

“This should have never happened. It was preventable and thank God Abby is alive. But had the school administrators acted in the interest of their teachers and their students, Abby would not have sustained a gunshot wound to the chest,” said Diane Toscano, one of the attorneys representing Zwerner. The school’s super independent, principal and assistant principal were all named as defendants.

Gwynn announced on April 10 that he has petitioned the Newport News Circuit Court to convene a special grand jury “to investigate any security issues at Richneck that may have contributed to the shooting,” per WAVY.

“The safety and security of Newport News students is of utmost importance. The special grand jury will investigate to determine whether additional charges against additional persons are justified by the facts and the law,” said Gwynn in a statement, per CBS 19 News. “If the special grand jury determines that additional persons are criminally responsible under the law, it can return additional indictments.”

Taylor’s attorney has not publicly commented on her indictment.

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