Before Teacher Was Shot, Assistant Principal Was Warned First Grader Had a Gun

The shooting of an elementary teacher by a 6-year-old student in Newport News, Va., last year was preceded by a “shocking” series of lapses by the school’s assistant principal at the time, according to a report by a special grand jury that was released on Wednesday.

Despite having been told that same day that the student was “in a violent mood,” and having received several reports that he was carrying a firearm, the assistant principal turned down a school counselor’s request for permission to search the student, the grand jury said in its report.

Less than a half-hour later, the student’s teacher, Abigail Zwerner,, was in the classroom with him and 15 other first graders when he pulled out 9-millimeter Taurus handgun and shot her from less than six feet away just before 2 p.m.

The bullet passed through her hand and struck her chest. The gun, which was loaded with seven more rounds, jammed after the first shot. The boy later said that he had found it at home, in his mother’s purse.

While her students sheltered in a neighboring classroom, Ms. Zwerner stumbled down the hallway and passed out in front of the door to the principal’s office. She survived.

“I told you — I tried to keep you safe,” said one of the shooter’s friends, who had told one of Ms. Zwerner’s colleagues at Richneck Elementary School about the gun, according to the report.

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