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'Some days I can't get out of bed': Virginia teacher shot by 6-year-old student speaks up


In her first public statements since the attack that shocked the country, Abigail Zwerner said she has undergone multiple surgeries and is in therapy, but is still unable to fully use her left hand. This has been her dramatic recovery.

By Erik Ortiz -

NBC News

Abigail Zwerner, the Virginia teacher who was seriously injured when police say a 6-year-old student intentionally shot her during class, confessed that her recovery has been grueling.

Zwerner, who spoke for the first time publicly during an interview to be broadcast on the TODAY show, said he faces "obstacles and challenges" after multiple operations after being shot in his left hand and upper chest.

Her therapy appointments have left her physically and mentally exhausted, she confessed to TODAY co-host Savannah Guthrie.


Some days are not so good and I can't get out of bed

. Others are better, when I can get up and go to appointments," said Zwerner, 25, who has a bandaged left hand after a fourth operation to repair a bone that was severely damaged.

Abigail Zwerner received a bullet wound to her left hand for which she has had to undergo surgery four times.Carlos Bernate for NBC News

The physical scars are healing, he said, including a wound on the side of his body where doctors inserted a tube, because his lung had collapsed.

Four surgeries in one hand

Zwerner has had four operations on his left hand.

"But, having been through what I've been through, I try to be optimistic," the first-grade teacher at Richneck Elementary School said in the Newport News.

"I try to have a positive attitude about what happened and where my future is headed."

The teacher has been praised for the way she dealt with the shooting, after which she escorted her 20 students to safety.

The educator was hospitalized for two weeks.

Zwerner explained in the interview on Monday that he still hasn't regained all function in his left hand, which makes the simplest of tasks, such as making a fist, opening a bottle of water or getting dressed, extremely difficult.

He commented that

doctors are still not sure if he will be able to use his hand at all again.

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"Physical therapy is not only physically exhausting but also mentally exhausting. You're supposed to be moving your fingers every hour for an hour," he explained.

"I must move them so that the blood flows and recovers the movement of the hand."

A possible lawsuit

The January 6 shooting raised concerns about possible security lapses at the school, which includes grades kindergarten through fifth, and is in an educational district scarred by other incidents of gun violence in schools over the past 18 months. .

The law firm representing Zwerner plans to file a lawsuit in two weeks in connection with the case.

"I can tell you that there was failure on multiple levels in this case, and there were adults in positions of authority who could have prevented this tragedy and didn't," said his attorney Diane Toscano.

Toscano said the boy who shot Zwerner had had a pattern of behavior problems in his interactions with school staff and other students.

"There were failures on multiple levels in this case, and there were adults in positions of authority who could have prevented this tragedy."

According to a notice announcing the upcoming lawsuit, delivered to the Newport News school board on Jan. 24, the boy was suspended for one school day for breaking Zwerner's cell phone.

He returned the next day with a Taurus 9mm pistol with which he shot the teacher in class while she was at a reading table.

Three teachers had gone to school administration to discuss the boy's behavior and their suspicions that he had a weapon, Toscano added.

A source close to the case told NBC News that Zwerner had sent a loved one a text before the incident, saying the boy was armed and that school staff were doing nothing.

The student's family

After the incident, the boy's family said in a statement that the gun was "safe" in the home and that they "have always been committed to responsible gun ownership and keeping it out of the hands of children."

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The family also indicated that the boy was severely disabled and, following the shooting, was receiving, by court order, "needed treatment" at a juvenile detention medical facility.

Police say the boy's mother bought the gun legally, but have not specified how the boy got access to it or whether it was safely stored, as the family claims.

Howard Gwynn, the local prosecutor, told NBC News this month that while the boy may theoretically be criminally charged under Virginia law, he will not press charges against the minor.

"Our goal is not just to get this done as quickly as possible," Gwynn explained.

"When we look at all the facts, we will charge the person or people we believe, beyond any doubt, to have committed a crime."

James Ellenson, a lawyer for the family, said in an email Monday that they "welcome the prosecutor's decision and continue to pray for Zwerner's full recovery."

A spike in gun violence in schools

Gun violence in schools has been on the rise in the United States, reaching its highest level in two decades during the 2020-2021 school year, according to a June 2022 federal report. Still, it's rare for a minor is the attacker in such cases.

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"This is the 17th school shooting involving someone under the age of 10," said David Riedman, founder of the K-12 School Shooting Database, which tracks violent acts involving firearms on campus. students since 1970.

"It's rare that a child under the age of 6 is the one pulling the trigger," said Riedman, who made the comments to NBC News after the January attack.

Source: telemundo

All news articles on 2023-03-21

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