On Monday, a Virginia grand jury indicted the mother of a 6-year-old boy who allegedly shot his teacher in January.
The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported that Deja Nicole Taylor, 25, was charged with felony child neglect and a misdemeanor count of recklessly leaving a firearm so as to endanger a child. Taylor’s son, who has not been publicly named or is facing criminal charges, allegedly shot teacher Abigail Zwerner, 25, at Richneck Elementary School.
In addition to charging Taylor, prosecutors have also requested a special grand jury to investigate extenuating circumstances that may have contributed to the shooting. The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported that this could involve investigating school administrators.
According to the news outlet, the boy was sitting at a desk less than 10 feet from Zwerner, who was sitting at a reading table, when he brandished the gun and opened fire. The bullet reportedly first traveled through Zwerner’s left hand before it hit her in the chest and shoulder. The bullet remains in her body today.
School documents stated that Zwerner emailed admins throughout the school year about the boy’s behavioral reports and problems.
In late November, Zwerner allegedly wrote to then-Principal Briana Foster-Newton and then-Assistant Principal Dr. Ebony Parker about incidents in which the boy stuck his middle finger to a classmate and bumped into another student while running before knocking them to the ground.
“As of today, I do not feel comfortable with him returning to my classroom today…” Zwerner allegedly wrote.
In a second email, Zwerner reportedly told them she has scheduled a meeting with the boy’s father to address “behavioral difficulties” and get the boy some support.
Weeks later, on January 6, the 6-year-old boy reportedly shot Zwerner as she taught 20 other students. The gun he used allegedly belonged to Taylor, who obtained it legally.
Superintendent George Parker III previously stated that “at least one administrator” was aware of a possible weapon in the boy’s possession prior to the shooting. On the day of the shooting, the boy reportedly arrived at school late and his backpack was inspected in the front office.
It remains unclear why the gun was not located during that check.
Zwerner’s lawyer, Diane Toscano, has alleged that three teachers went to administrators about the boy’s behavior on the day of the shooting, including Zwerner. Zwerner reportedly told administrators that the student had threatened to beat up a classmate. Later, another teacher reportedly told administrators that they searched his backpack.
Though the gun was not located, that teacher reportedly said the gun may be in the boy’s pocket.
According to Toscano, a third teacher informed administrators that the boy brandished a gun at recess and threatened to shoot a classmate if he told. The lawyer also claimed that another teacher asked to search the boy but administrators denied the request as they wanted to “wait [out] the situation out because the school day was almost over.”
Earlier this month, Zwerner filed a $40 million lawsuit against the Newport News School Board and several school district officials for negligence and ignoring several warnings that the 6-year-old had a gun.
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[Featured image: Abigail Zwerner/GoFundMe]