The 6-year-old boy’s teacher in Norfolk, Virginia, said on Thursday that he was shot and wounded by a classmate. The boy, who usually had one of his parents accompany him to school, suffered from an acute disability.
The teacher said that the hospital had been treating her, and she was released earlier this week. Additionally, she received continuing outpatient care on Thursday.
The shooting took place in the city of Newport News on January 6th. It is the first public communication since the incident. A statement from the boy’s family was released through the attorney’s office of James S. Ellenson.
The unidentified family expressed, “The weapon our son obtained was properly stored.” “Our family has consistently upheld responsible ownership of firearms and ensuring that children cannot access them.”
The statement did not provide additional information on the location of the 9mm handgun or the intended meaning of “secured.”.
Like a bicycle lock, the weapon also possessed a trigger lock that necessitates a key. As Ellenson conveyed to The Associated Press during a phone conversation on Thursday evening, the firearm was situated in the mother’s closet on a top shelf that exceeded a height of six feet.
When it comes to how the child might have obtained access to the firearm, Ellenson stated: “We are unaware.”
According to the family, the boy “had a disability” and his mother or father would accompany him to school every day, ensuring that a care plan was in place at the school.
“Throughout the remainder of our lives, we will forever lament our failure to be present on this particular day. According to the family, the period of time encompassing the shooting incident marked the initial week during which we were not attending classes alongside him.”
It was unclear what the family meant by accompanying him to class everyday and whether that included staying with him during instruction.
The statement did not explain what his care plan was and whether it was similar to other plans that serve children with disabilities. It also did not define the disability of the boy.
Ellenson stated that an individualized education program (IEP) is what the known plan was. Under federal law, this program is provided to students with disabilities, whether it is a behavioral or intellectual disability.
Ellenson stated that the boy’s parents had been joining him in class for a few weeks on certain occasions.
Ellenson stated, “I suppose it was a collaborative decision between the parents and the school, and it is no longer deemed necessary.”
According to Michael J. Kennedy, a professor specializing in special education at the University of Virginia, public schools are obligated by federal law to provide accommodations for students with disabilities and adjust their curriculums, if needed, to meet the educational needs and objectives of each student.
Kennedy expressed, “approximately 12% of students in U.S. Public schools possess an ‘individualized education program’. Input from parents, educators, and other personnel, such as a school psychologist, is mandatory for them.”
Kennedy stated, “One possible way to accommodate students with learning disabilities is by providing them with additional time to finish an assignment or an exam.”
Kennedy expressed, “However, it does occur among a limited group of students, especially those who require significant support.” Nonetheless, it is uncommon for students with disabilities to be accompanied by an adult, like an educational assistant who provides individualized guidance to children.
Kennedy, a previous educator of special needs education, expressed that he has never observed parents fulfilling a similar role in the classroom.
He stated, “It is the duty of the school. If the child possesses a disability of such magnitude that they require continuous assistance, that should be approved by the (individualized education program) committee. Subsequently, the school will offer the necessary support.”
The shooting in Newport News, a city located along the James River near Chesapeake Bay, has garnered international attention, as it could be seen as a thing that is fueling an ongoing debate about how schools discipline children, and many people across the nation are struggling to comprehend it.
Virginia law prohibits leaving a loaded gun accessible to a child under 14, making it a punishable misdemeanor crime with a maximum sentence of one year in prison and a fine of $2,500. Police have stated that it was unclear how the mother legally purchased the gun that her 6-year-old son gained access to.
Prior to being quickly transported to the hospital, the 25-year-old educator swiftly escorted her students out of the classroom. Law enforcement stated that the bullet penetrated her hand and hit her chest. According to authorities, the boy aimed the firearm at Zwerner without any prior indication or resistance. Abigail Zwerner was instructing her first grade students at Richneck Elementary at the time of the incident.
Last week, the superintendent of Newport News schools disclosed that despite the staff’s thorough examination of his bag, they were unable to locate the firearm. Additionally, it was discovered by Richneck administrators that the child may have possessed a weapon prior to the incident.
The statement from the family of the boy said that we pray for her healing in the aftermath of such an unimaginable tragedy, as she served selflessly as a school teacher for the children and our son.
“The administrators, teachers, and other members of the community are grieving alongside us, as we express our gratitude for the sacrifice and grace shown during this horrific incident. The family’s statement continued, expressing our heartfelt appreciation for the compassionate and diligent support our son received in seeking the best learning environment and education for our family.”
The family expressed that the youngster has been obtaining suitable healthcare at the medical facility ever since the occurrence and is receiving “the essential therapy.”
“At the same time, we love our son and are asking that you please include him and our family in your prayers.”.
Steve Drew, the Newport News police chief, has described the shooting as “intentional.” A judge will determine what’s next for the child.
Ellenson, the lawyer representing the boy’s family, stated that they are fully cooperating with the police in their investigation.
In a Facebook live conversation with the community, Drew mentioned on Wednesday that the inquiry is ongoing, but the mother has not been accused of any wrongdoing yet.
Drew responded by saying that detectives wanted to conduct a thorough investigation in order to ensure accountability. The chief asked at least twice whether the boy’s parents would be charged or held responsible.
Drew stated that he will not hurry them. He mentioned that his department maintains an excellent rapport with local prosecutors and he has “enormous confidence” that “they will arrive at the correct conclusion based on the evidence they possess.”
Drew mentioned that the interrogators are close to completing the interviews with the kids who were present in the classroom, and law enforcement is collaborating with a psychologist to engage in conversations with them regarding their observations.
The chief stated, “A 6-year-old child acquired a weapon in the presence of fellow students, brought it to the educational institution, aimed and discharged it, resulting in the injury of his teacher. This is an extraordinary event that has never occurred before in our city.” He went on to say, “During her teaching session, a young educator sustained a gunshot injury. Thankfully, she is still alive today due to divine intervention.”