NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) – A Virginia grand jury has indicted the mother of the 6-year-old who shot his first-grade teacher earlier this year.
Teacher Abby Zwerner was shot in the hand and chest in January at Richneck Elementary School in Newport News as she sat at a reading table in her classroom. The 25-year-old teacher spent nearly two weeks in the hospital and required four surgeries.
The shooting sent shock waves through the military shipbuilding community and the country, with many wondering how a child so young could access a gun and shoot his teacher.
On Monday, the Newport News Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office shared that a grand jury has indicted the student’s mother, Deja Taylor, for felony child neglect and a misdemeanor of recklessly leaving a loaded firearm so as to endanger a child.
“Every criminal case is unique in its facts, and these facts support these charges, but our investigation into the shooting continues,” said Newport News Commonwealth’s Attorney Howard Gwynn in a press release. No charges are expected to be brought against the 6-year-old, Gwynn said last month.
Gwynn has also petitioned the Newport News Circuit Court to impanel a special grand jury to investigate any security issues at Richneck that may have contributed to the shooting.
The child’s teacher, Abby Zwerner, survived the shooting and has filed a $40 million lawsuit against the school district, alleging gross negligence and reckless breach of duty against the school board and three former administrators at the school. The suit says they failed to protect Zwerner against the student despite multiple warnings.
In a statement following Monday’s indictment, Zwerner’s lawyer Diane Toscano said, “There were failures in accountability at multiple levels that led to Abby being shot and almost killed. Today’s announcement addresses but one of those failures. It has been three months of investigation and still so many unanswered questions remain. Our lawsuit makes clear that we believe the school division violated state law, and we are pursuing this in civil court. We will not allow school leaders to escape accountability for their role in this tragedy.”