After a 6-year-old child allegedly pointed a gun at his teacher and shot her in the chest at a Virginia elementary school earlier this month, the question of whether the shooting was preventable has grown as school officials leave their posts and the district faces a possible lawsuit.
Dr. Ebony Parker, vice principal of Richneck Elementary School in Newport News, resigned Wednesday, a district spokesman told CNN.
The resignation came hours before the Newport News school board voted to remove its superintendent, Dr. George Parker III, whose last day is scheduled for February 1. The board has appointed an interim superintendent.
School officials have faced fierce criticism after a 6-year-old student brought his mother’s legally purchased gun to school on Jan. 6 and deliberately shot his first-grade teacher, Abby Zwerner, after an altercation, police said. According to his family, the boy also has a disability.
Frustration over gun violence infiltrating yet another US school — as the country endures traumatic shootings nearly every day — was exacerbated Wednesday when the teacher’s attorney claimed school officials had been notified of the gun’s presence multiple times.
“Over the course of a few hours, three different times — three times — the school board was alerted by concerned teachers and employees that the boy had a gun pointed at him and was threatening people,” attorney Diane Toscano told reporters during a news report. conference Wednesday.
When the attorney announced that a lawsuit would be filed against the district, she said the administration “did not act” despite “knowing of imminent danger.”
“Abby and these other teachers at Richneck Elementary School were trying to do the right thing on January 6,” Toscano said. “But the administration didn’t care.”
A spokesperson for the school district declined to comment on the potential lawsuit.
Zwerner, 25, was initially in critical condition and later stabilized before being released from hospital.
The school has been closed since the shooting and there are plans to return on Monday. As day one approaches again, a concerned parent said his son is in the student’s class and has been distraught since the shooting.
“This is a scary situation, my son is still scared,” Mark Garcia Sr. told me. to CNN. “He wants to go back to school, but he just wants to know he’ll be safe, and that’s the most important thing.”
The school’s alleged failure to act is “appalling,” Garcia said.
“The people who know about this have let us down and they have failed the safety measures of everyone who is in that school,” he said.
‘Enough is enough!’: Outraged parents call on school board after 6-year-old reportedly shoots teacher
Before the shooting happened in Zwerner’s first class, there were some warning signs associated with the student, the teacher’s lawyer revealed in detail on Wednesday.
Just before 11:30 a.m. on Jan. 6, Zwerner told an administrator that the 6-year-old had “threatened to beat up another kid,” Toscano said. Administration did not remove the student from class or call security, Toscano claimed.
An hour later, at around 12:30 p.m., another teacher told the administrator she believed the student had put a gun in his pocket and taken it out to go on recess, Toscano claimed. The administrator allegedly “downplayed” the possibility, Toscano said, responding that the boy had “little pockets.”
Shortly after 1 p.m., a third teacher told administrators that another child – described by Toscano as “crying and frightened” – had informed the teacher that the 6-year-old “showed him the gun at recess and threatened to shoot him if he told someone.”
A fourth employee then asked the administration for permission to search the boy, but was refused, Toscano claimed.
About an hour later, the 6-year-old student allegedly shot Zwerner, the lawyer said. CNN has reached out to the school district for comment on Toscano’s claims.
The shooting occurred after an altercation between Zwerner and the student, who pointed the gun at her and fired a single bullet, Newport News Police Chief Steve Drew said at the time.
No other students were involved and there was no physical fight or struggle, the chief said.
The boy was placed in pre-trial detention and was examined at a local hospital.
The shooting at Richneck Elementary was the first this year at a US school, according to an analysis by CNN. There were 60 K-12 school shootings in 2022, the CNN analysis shows.
The 6-year-old child remains publicly unknown, but his family has released statements through their lawyer.
On Wednesday, the family said they continue to “pray for Ms. Zwerner and wish her a full and complete recovery,” the attorney told CNN in a statement. “Our hearts go out to all involved.”
In an earlier statement, the family said the boy has a disability and receives care at the school.
“Our son suffers from an acute disability and was under a care plan at the school where his mother or father went to school with him and accompanied him to class every day,” the family statement says.
According to the family, the weapon allegedly used was secured before the shooting. A family member usually went to class with him, but not the week of the shooting, they said.
“We will regret our absence on this day for the rest of our lives,” the family statement said.
Notably, the police chief has indicated that the boy’s mother may face prosecution for the shooting.
Under Virginia law, it is a felony for an adult to leave a loaded, unsecured firearm in such a way that it could endanger a child under the age of 14. A person is prohibited from admitting a child under the age of 12 without knowing it. to use a firearm.