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Mother of young boy who shot teacher arrested in Virginia

Apr 13, 2023, 1:36 PM

FILE - Police look on as students return to Richneck Elementary on Jan. 30, 2023, in Newport News, ...

FILE - Police look on as students return to Richneck Elementary on Jan. 30, 2023, in Newport News, Va. A grand jury in Virginia has indicted the mother of a 6-year-old boy who shot his teacher on charges of child neglect and failing to secure her handgun in the family's home, a prosecutor said Monday, April 10. (Billy Schuerman/The Virginian-Pilot via AP, File)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(Billy Schuerman/The Virginian-Pilot via AP, File)

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (AP) — The mother of a 6-year-old boy who shot and wounded his teacher in Virginia has been formally arrested on charges of child neglect and failing to secure her handgun, police announced Thursday.

The Newport News Police Department released a booking photo of the woman, 25, and a brief statement that said she turned herself in at the local jail. Police did not release any information regarding bail or whether she was incarcerated.

The Associated Press isn’t naming the mother to shield the identity of her son.

Authorities had announced Monday that she was being charged with felony child neglect and a misdemeanor charge of endangering a child by reckless storage of a firearm. Her attorney had said that she planned to turn herself in later this week. He did not return a phone call and email requesting comment on Thursday.

The woman’s arrest comes more than three months after police say her son shot and wounded first-grade teacher Abby Zwerner as she sat at a reading table in her classroom. Police said the child used his mother’s gun, which was legally purchased.

Zwerner filed a $40 million lawsuit against the school system last week, accusing school officials of gross negligence and of ignoring multiple warnings from teachers and others that the boy had taken a gun to school that day.

The city prosecutor’s office said Tuesday that it is investigating whether the “actions or omissions” of any school employees could lead to criminal charges.

The January shooting at Richneck Elementary has rattled Newport News, a shipbuilding city of about 185,000 people near the Chesapeake Bay.

Police Chief Steve Drew has repeatedly characterized the shooting as “intentional.” He said there was no warning and no struggle before the child pointed the gun at Zwerner and fired one round, striking her in the hand and chest.

Zwerner, 25, hustled her students out of the classroom before being rushed to the hospital, where she stayed for nearly two weeks.

The felony neglect charge filed against the boy’s mother is punishable by up to five years in prison. The misdemeanor charge of recklessly storing a firearm is punishable by up to one year in jail.

James Ellenson, the mother’s attorney, has said previously that she has no criminal record. He has also said that her gun was secured on a top shelf in her closet and had a trigger lock.

The family has said the boy has an “acute disability ” and was under a care plan that included his mother or father accompanying him to class every day. The week of the shooting was the first when a parent was not in class with him, the family said.

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Mother of young boy who shot teacher arrested in Virginia