6 Year Old Shoots Teacher


The teacher/victim involved in the shooting, Abigail Zwerner.

Hannah Blevins and Haley Thiel

On January 6th of this year, first-grade teacher Abigail Zwerner was teaching her students when one of her six-year-old first graders pulled out a handgun from his bag, fired the gun once, and shot her in the chest. Although the teacher is out of the hospital and is doing well, there are many speculations surrounding the shooting. Many speculate whether or not the kid had motives, or whether the parents taught him how to use a gun. Regardless, people and police are trying to come up with an explanation for why this happened.

There were mixed reactions on Instagram from viewers regarding the shooting. Many of the commenters believe the parents should be investigated. 

“I would heavily investigate the family, for abuse, neglect, etc,” says Vikki Ann, a commenter under a news post. “[I] hope the teacher is well of course, and they recover fully, but I can’t imagine what kind of environment a six-year-old is in to do that.” 

Others are questioning the motive of the kid who caused the shooting. Heath Marie asks, “Did the boy give a reason why he became so angry and violent to shoot his teacher?”

Before the shooting, there were reports that the child had made threats to shoot her. Ms. Zwerner alerted at least one administrator and said that she had suspicions the boy was carrying around a firearm. Although his bookbag was inspected, the firearm was not found. Zwerner texted a loved one the day of the shooting, saying she was “frustrated because she was trying to get help with this child, for this child, and then when she needed help, no one was coming.”

One of the largest questions at hand is this: why does a first grader know how to handle a gun? The Police Chief of Newport News, Steve Drew, says: “How does a 6-year-old know how to use a firearm? I don’t know that I can give you an adequate answer,” Drew says. “It’s unprecedented. I don’t know how to answer that question.” According to David Riedman, the founder of the K-12 School Shooting Database, there have been 16 school shooting cases since 1970 where the shooter was under the age of 10.

The parents of the child have publically spoken about the issue as of January 21st. “The firearm our son assessed was secured,” they stated to Buzzfeed News. The family did not specify where the gun was “secured” or how he gained access to it. The gun was acquired legally by the mother, who may be facing charges once the investigation concludes. The parents have also disclosed that their son has an “acute disability” and is under a care plan that requires one of the parents to be present with the child in class every day. This was the first day one of them was not present with him at school. Bella Dulcie, one of the many bystanders speculating about this shooting, questions the security of the gun. “It was secured enough that he was able to steal it and put it in his bag, and his parents just happened to not be there that day?”

Almost a month after the shooting, Richneck Elementary School opened again on January 30th. More parents are beginning to feel at ease sending their kids back to school as Richneck Elementary has improved security by installing metal detectors. 

The split reactions to this devastating incident continue to increase as videos and statements are shared online. Even with the statement of the boy’s parents, there are still many unanswered questions regarding the shooting. Hopefully now with the increased safety protocols at Richneck Elementary, other schools will take precautions to prevent events like this from ever happening again.