(DailyVantage.com) – School shootings aren’t that uncommon anymore, with 51 in 2022. Still, most perpetrators aren’t usually six years old. The nation looked on in shock last week when the details of a shooting at a Newport News, Virginia school emerged — and the news has sparked a lot of questions.
Community Waits With Bated Breath
On Friday, January 6, a school shooting at Richneck Elementary worried parents and the surrounding community. Police rushed to the scene as a dispatcher relayed an assailant had shot a female in the abdomen and the hand, and she was struggling to remain conscious. Authorities notified parents about an active shooter situation and told them to wait at a reunification center, but they didn’t fill them in immediately.
After the event settled, parents experienced another kind of shock — it turned out the shooter was a six-year-old first grader. Even more shocking, according to NBC News, Newport News Police Chief Steve Drew said, “this was not an accidental shooting.”
More Details Emerge
The teacher and the student were reportedly in the classroom with other students during a lesson when the boy pulled out the handgun. Witness reports conflict on whether the teacher tried to disarm the child before he shot her with a single round. The teacher managed to evacuate the rest of the class before seeking help.
Chief Steve Drew of the Newport News Police said they found a 9mm Taurus pistol in the classroom by the boy’s backpack. During an interview with detectives, the child’s mother confirmed the parents had legally purchased and stored the weapon in their home. Authorities arrested the boy, though they have not released his identity because of his age. The teacher, Abigail “Abby” Zwerner, 25, suffered life-threatening injuries. She has shown signs of improvement but remains hospitalized.
What Happens Next?
The situation is challenging because of the child’s age. According to Virginia law, his age bars prosecutors from trying him as an adult despite the fact the crime was intentional. Most kids, if convicted, would go to a juvenile detention center. However, because he’s under the age of 11, that’s not possible either.
Then, there’s the question of the parents. How much legal liability do they hold? Legal analyst for WTVR CBS 6, Todd Stone, said the worst the parents would face is a misdemeanor and a maximum of a year in jail. Authorities could also seek the child’s removal from the home if they deem it unsafe, but that would require proving negligence, which can be difficult.
For now, prosecutors haven’t stated whether or how they will charge the six-year-old. Stone said it represents a difficult burden for the legal system because of the child’s age.
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