The family of a 6-year-old Virginia boy who allegedly shot his first-grade teacher at a Newport News elementary school nearly two weeks ago has released the first statement since the incident, praising the teacher and saying their son is safe. severe disability.
“Our hearts go out to our son’s teacher and we pray for his recovery after this unimaginable tragedy as he served our son and the children at school so selflessly,” he said Thursday, according to attorney James Ellenson.
The statement comes the same day officials announced that Richneck Elementary School teacher Abby Zwerner, who was injured in a classroom shooting on Jan. 6, has been released from the hospital.
Zwerner, 25, was shot in the chest after the bullet went through his arm, Newport News Police Chief Steve Drew told reporters last week. Police have not identified the primary school student who allegedly did it.
In the statement, the family said the gun allegedly used was secured before the shooting. She said that a family member often accompanies her to class, but not during the week of the event.
“Our son has a severe disability and was under a care plan at school that included either his mother or father walking him to school and taking him to class every day,” the family’s statement says. “We will regret not being there today for the rest of our lives.”
The gun was legally purchased by the child’s mother, who may face charges at the end of the investigation, according to Drew. The child brought it to school in his backpack, he said.
Under Virginia law, it is a misdemeanor if an adult leaves a loaded, unprotected firearm in such a way that it could endanger a child under the age of 14. 12 to use a firearm.
Ellenson had no comment on CNN’s follow-up questions about how the gun was secured and how the child got the day of the shooting. The statement said the family has been cooperating with investigators.
The family’s statement also praised Zwerner.
“He has worked diligently and compassionately to provide for our family as we searched for the best place for our son to study and learn,” the family said. “We thank him for his courage, grace and sacrifice. We grieve with all the other teachers, families and administrators for how this terrible event has affected them, our community, and our country.”
Newport News Public Schools said Thursday it could not release any information about the shooting at this time.
Riverside Regional Medical Center spokeswoman Angela Arcieri said Zwerner was released earlier this week.
“(Zwerner) continues to recover as an outpatient with the support of family, friends, and health care providers. The Zwerner family respectfully requests privacy at this time,” Arcieri wrote in an emailed statement.
Police have described the shooting, which initially left the teacher seriously injured, as “intentional.”
Zwerner was praised for his heroics in protecting his students after they were shot. He made sure all of his students left the classroom, Drew said, and was the last person to leave his classroom before heading to the principal’s office.
Classes are closed until at least January 30, when the next semester begins. Officials “will schedule a time for Richneck families to begin transitioning students back into the building” next Wednesday, according to the school’s website.
The school is offering mental health services on Thursdays and Fridays for students and families.
The Richneck shooting was the first in 2023 at a US school, according to a CNN analysis. In 2022, there were 60 shootings in K-12 schools, a CNN analysis shows.
However, school shootings by a suspected juvenile are extremely rare. According to the K-12 School Shooting Database, which tracks shootings in American schools since 1970, there have been three other cases where the suspect was 6 years old: in 2000, 2011 and 2021.