Update: Mother of 6-year-old who shot Virginia teacher is charged

A school sign wishing students a "Happy New Year" is seen outside Richneck Elementary School on January 7, 2023 in Newport News, Virginia.

The mother of a six-year-old child who shot his teacher at a school in Virginia has been criminally charged.

Deja Taylor, 25, has been indicted by a grand jury with a felony child neglect charge and a misdemeanour charge.

Police had previously said that the gun used in the shooting belonged to Ms Taylor. The child brought the gun in his backpack to Richneck Elementary School in the city of Newport News on 6 January.

He then shot Abigail Zwerner, a 25-year-old teacher, in the hand and chest during a lesson. Ms Zwerner was seriously injured but survived the shooting.

On Monday, prosecutors said in a statement that Ms Taylor had been charged with one count of felony child neglect and one count of misdemeanour for “recklessly leaving a loaded firearm so as to endanger a child.”

They added the charges stemmed from a “thorough investigation” into the shooting.

“Every criminal case is unique in its facts, and these facts support these charges, but our investigation into the shooting continues,” said Howard Gwynn, the attorney for the Commonwealth of Virginia.

The family had previously said in a statement after the shooting that the gun was secured. James Elleson, a lawyer for the family, told the Associated Press that the gun had been in the mother’s closet on a top shelf and that it had had a trigger lock.

Authorities said other charges could be announced as a special grand jury looked into security issues at the school that may have allowed the shooting to take place. “If the Special Grand Jury determines that additional persons are criminally responsible under the law, it can return additional indictments,” Mr Gwynn said.

The teacher has accused school officials of ignoring multiple warnings that the boy had a gun on the day of the shooting, and has sued them for gross negligence.

School officials had previously confirmed that the child’s backpack had been searched by a staff member at the school on the day of the shooting, after it had been reported that the student may have a weapon.

Prosecutors have previously said that the child was unlikely to be charged in connection to the shooting.

Mr Gwynn told NBC News in March that the “prospect that a six-year-old can stand trial is problematic” because the child is too young to understand the legal system. “Once we analyse all the facts, we will charge any person or persons that we believe we can prove beyond a reasonable doubt committed a crime,” Mr Gwynn said at the time.


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