The mother of a 6-year-old boy who shot his first grade teacher earlier this year says she is” obviously” taking responsibility for her son’s actions “because he can’t,” adding that she believes what happened that day is linked to his ADHD diagnosis.
Deja Taylor has been charged with a felony count of child neglect and a misdemeanor count of recklessly leaving a firearm to endanger a child and is scheduled to go on trial August 15.
Abby Zwerner, the teacher, has recovered from the shooting, ABC News said. She filed a $40 million lawsuit against the Newport News School District and officials at Richneck Elementary School, saying they ignored warnings about the student’s behavior, including suggestions that he might have a gun.
The school board filed to dismiss the lawsuit, saying Zwerner’s injuries are covered under worker’s compensation.
Taylor told ABC her son is a “great kid” and “very energetic” because of his diagnosis.
“He’s off the wall,” she said. “Doesn’t sit still, ever.”
“I am, as a parent, obviously willing to take responsibility for him because he can’t take responsibility” for himself, she said.
Taylor said her son “actually really like his teacher but “felt like he was being ignored” during the week of the shooting.
“You know, most children, when they are trying to talk to you, and if you easily just brush them off, or you ask them to sit down, or you’re dealing with something else and you ask them to go and sit down, at 6 [years old] you — in your mind would believe that, ‘Somebody’s not listening to me,’ and you have a tantrum,” Taylor said.
The shooting took place the day the boy returned from a suspension stemming from an incident in which he was accused of slamming Zwerner’s cellphone to the floor, breaking the screen.
“He threw his arms up. He said, ‘Fine.’ And when he threw his arms up, he knocked her phone out of her hand on accident,” she said.
Taylor’s attorney told ABC that ultimately, the responsibility for the shooting is on school officials.
“If they believed all of these behaviors to be true, then they should not have allowed him” to advance to a higher level, James Ellenson said. “They should’ve put him back into kindergarten, possibly even pre-K, but at the minimum to kindergarten.”
The shooting took place after school officials told his parents they were no longer required to accompany him to school, as they had since the beginning of the school year.
“He was more attentive, he tried to follow along, he tried to do the coursework,” Calvin Taylor, his grandfather who has legal custody, said. “But in all fairness to the other kids in the class, sometimes it was just too much for him.”
It’s not clear how the boy got the gun, which was legally purchased. Deja Taylor said she last saw it when it was locked away. But, she and her attorney said, she had been suffering from post partum depression after a series of miscarriages and had been hospitalized for a week.
Taylor apologized that Zwerner was hurt.
“We were actually kind of forming a relationship with me having to be in the classroom. And she is really a bright person.” she said.
For the latest true crime and justice news, subscribe to the ‘Crime Stories with Nancy Grace’ podcast.
[Featured image: Abby Zwerner/GoFundMe]