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Family of 6-year-old shooter in Newport News School shooting releases statement

The family of the 6-year-old boy who allegedly shot his first-grade teacher at a Newport News elementary school has released a statement for the first time since the incident. The statement, released by attorney James Ellenson, expressed sympathy for the teacher, Abby Zwerner, and said that their child has an acute disability. The statement also said that the gun used in the shooting was secured before the incident and that a family member usually accompanied the child to school, but not the week of the incident.

The family expressed regret for their absence on the day of the incident and praised Zwerner for her efforts in supporting their child’s education. They also expressed their condolences for the impact the incident has had on the community and the nation.


The child’s mother, who legally purchased the gun, could face charges at the end of the investigation. Under Virginia law, it is a misdemeanor for an adult to leave a loaded, unsecured firearm in a way that endangers a child under 14. The law also states that it is unlawful for a person to unknowingly allow a child under 12 to use a firearm.

The family also stated that they have been cooperating with investigators and have no comment on how the gun was secured or how the child was able to access it the day of the shooting.

The incident occurred on January 6 and left Zwerner critically injured. She was released from the hospital on the same day that the family released their statement. Zwerner has been praised for her heroic actions in keeping her students safe and making sure they all got out of the classroom before she made her way to the administration office.

Newport News Public Schools have provided emotional support services for students and families and have requested privacy for Zwerner and her family during her recovery. The Richneck shooting was the first of 2023 at a US school, according to CNN analysis, and is one of the rare cases where the suspect is as young as 6.

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