Shot by 6-year-old boy, American teacher 'saved lives' by evacuating classroom
Steph Deschamps / January 10, 2023
U.S. officials on Monday praised the heroism of a school teacher shot by a 6-year-old boy, saying she "saved lives" by evacuating all the children in the classroom before receiving treatment.
Abigail Zwerner, 25, "saved lives on Friday," Steve Drew, the police chief in Newport News, Virginia (east), where the tragedy occurred in a first-grade classroom at Richneck Elementary School, told a news conference.
After an undisclosed discussion with his teacher, a 6-year-old boy brandished a 9mm Taurus pistol. Abigail Zwerner reached out in a defensive gesture, and the child fired a bullet that punctured the young woman's hand before entering her chest. Still hospitalized Monday, she was in stable condition, Drew said.
"She made sure all the kids left the classroom and she was the last one to leave the room," he noted. "I think she saved lives, because I don't know what would have happened if those kids had stayed in the room."
When law enforcement arrived minutes later, an unidentified school employee was attempting to restrain the child, who struck her several times before being taken away in a police car.
Between 16 and 20 children were in the room at the time of the tragedy and no one other than the teacher was injured. Local authorities decided to temporarily remove the child from the custody of his parents and admit him to a medical center, where he remained on Monday, according to the police chief. The gun had been legally purchased by his mother.
This is not the first time the small town of Newport News, near the large Norfolk Naval Base, has been the scene of a school shooting.
In September 2021, two 17-year-olds were shot and wounded by another student at a local high school.
Shootings, especially in schools, are a scourge in the United States. In May, a teenager killed 19 schoolchildren and two female teachers at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.
More than 44,000 gun deaths were recorded in the United States last year, half of them by suicide and the other half involving murders, accidents or self-defense, according to the Gun Violence Archive website.