A 6-year-old boy who shot his teacher at an elementary school in Virginia won’t be charged, prosecutor says.
The boy shot and wounded first-grade teacher Abigail Zwerner in a classroom at Richneck Elementary School in Newport News.
Last month, Newport News Commonwealth’s Attorney Howard Gwynn said he received the large case file from police and he was considering charging the troubled boy.
But in an interview with NBC News, Gwynn said the “prospect that a 6-year-old can stand trial is problematic” because the child doesn’t understand the charges against him.
Gwynn said his office is trying to determine if anyone else should be criminally charged in the case.
A 6-year-old child can be criminally charged under Virginia law, but Gwynn said he does not believe there is a legal basis to charge a child.
“Our objective is not just to do something as quickly as possible,” Gwynn said. “Once we analyze all the facts, we will charge any person or persons that we believe we can prove beyond a reasonable doubt committed a crime.”
Prior to the shooting, Zwerner, 25, complained to school administration about the child’s outbursts and threats of violence.
But the school’s assistant principal allegedly dismissed her concerns.
The boy reportedly threatened to set fire to another teacher and watch her die.
The boy’s mother said he was diagnosed with an “acute disability,” and that a care plan required her or her husband to accompany the child to class.
The shooting occurred on a day when neither parent was with him in class.
The mother said the boy is in a facility receiving the “treatment he needs” under a temporary detention court-order.
A criminal charge would’ve meant the boy could be detained indefinitely. But without a criminal charge, the boy can be discharged home with his parents.
Dianne Toscano, Zwerner’s attorney, announced a lawsuit against Newport News Public Schools in January.
Toscano said that three school employees warned the administration that the boy had a gun. But their concerns were dismissed.
Hours after Toscano’s press conference, Dr Ebony Parker, the school’s vice principal, resigned her position.
Superintendent Dr. George Parker III was fired at a Newport News school board meeting in January.