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How could the boy who shot his teacher in Virginia use the gun?


"If they searched the backpack, they didn't do it right," said Desiree Yvette, whose 6-year-old daughter witnessed the Jan. 6 shooting at Richneck Elementary School in Newport News.

By Antonio Planas -

NBC News

Parents at the Virginia elementary school where a 6-year-old boy shot a first-grade teacher this month are demanding answers about how the boy managed to use the gun after his backpack was searched.

"That doesn't make sense to me. If they searched the backpack, they didn't do it right," said Desiree Yvette, whose 6-year-old daughter witnessed the Jan. 6 shooting at Richneck Elementary School in which Abigail Zwerner was critically injured.

Yvette added: "They didn't physically check to make sure nothing was there. If they had, someone would have picked it up. They should have looked elsewhere if they felt it was necessary. And if they didn't, they failed."

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Yvette was part of a group of Richneck parents who spoke to NBC News on Sunday and questioned how thoroughly the boy, his backpack and the school were searched before the shooting in Zwerner's class while he was teaching about 20 students.

Zwerner survived and is recovering, according to authorities.

School system superintendent George Parker III told a meeting Thursday that it was not public information that the boy was late for school and his backpack was inspected upon arrival at the office to sign in, according to parents who attended the meeting. .

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"At least one administrator was notified of a possible weapon," Parker said in video reviewed by NBC News.

A Newport News police spokeswoman said authorities also determined that "a school employee was notified of a possible firearm in Richneck before the shooting occurred."

And it detailed that "the Newport News Police Department was not notified of this information prior to the incident."

No further details were released about who conducted the search, why the gun was not found and whether the boy's clothing was physically examined.

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Thomas Britton, 35, questioned the steps school officials took after learning the boy may have brought a gun to school.

"You've got a tip, a search and a shot," said Britton, who questioned whether the boy was removed from the classroom and whether his parents were notified that he was suspected of sneaking a gun onto campus.

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"What did they do, just look in the backpack and say, 'I don't see a gun.' And they went back to class?" Britton said.

"If anyone knew that my son brought a weapon, I would like to be notified and I would also like him to be removed from class until that situation is fixed."

Britton's son was supposed to be in Zwerner's class during the shooting, but was absent because he underwent a medical procedure.

Yvette, 31, said seeing the horror in Zwerner's classroom has traumatized the girl.

She broke down in tears when talking about her daughter's pain.

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"She's scared of everything right now," Yvette said.

"She doesn't feel safe. Her teacher was her biggest advocate. And by experiencing and seeing that, she doesn't feel safe anymore because the person who gave her security at school was hurt. She's afraid that someone she loves and cares about will come out hurt".

Mark Anthony Garcia, 38, said his second-grader son is "shocked" after he heard the shot and then tried to help crying students.

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Garcia said he's upset the administration didn't notify parents immediately after the shooting.

"When the news came out, a lot of parents started running to the school with a lot of confusion," Garcia said.

He also said there was no security officer who could have properly checked the boy for a weapon.

"They didn't have security in the morning. I go every day and we don't have security in the morning."

Garcia says he now wants to know "who will be responsible" for the security breaches at the school.

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Richneck will now be equipped with a metal detector, school district officials announced last week.

The district has secured funding for 90 state-of-the-art metal detectors that will be placed in all district schools.

Richneck has been closed since the shooting, authorities said.

That school district has had three cases of gun violence in 17 months.

Newport News Police Chief Steve Drew said the investigation is continuing.

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Drew testified that the boy's mother legally purchased the Taurus 9mm firearm used in the shooting and that the boy took the gun from his home.

Determining whether she was well insured is a key element in the investigation, she said.

Drew also said the inquiries involve looking into the child and his parents' history.

He also said that the students who witnessed the incident will be interviewed.

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"If there are child protective service records, we want to see them. If there are any school records related to behavior problems or anything related to violence and threats," those reports will also be investigated, he said.

She added: "Unfortunately, we're going to have to talk—I wish I didn't have to, but it's necessary to be thorough and do the best we can—with the students that were in the room. And we'll partner with a child psychologist who will take care of those interviews for us".

Source: telemundo

All news articles on 2023-01-16

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