The city prosecutor in Newport News, Virginia has said that he will not charge the six-year-old boy who shot his elementary school teacher in January.
Per NBC News, Attorney Howard Gwynn admitted the “prospect that a 6-year-old can stand trial is problematic,” but that he was too young to possess the competency to stand trial or assist an attorney. He added the 6-year-old still could be criminally charged under Virginia law.
“Our objective is not just to do something as quickly as possible,” Gwynn told the outlet. “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.”
25-year-old first-grade teacher Abigail Zwerner was hospitalized after she was shot in the chest and hand in her classroom at Richneck Elementary School on Jan. 6. Zwerner has since filed a lawsuit demanding the school’s superintendent be removed as well as the assistant principal for failing to act to protect Zwerner from the student, who was described as having behavioral issues.
The administration had additionally learned on Jan. 6 that the student was potentially in possession of a 9mm handgun but failed to find the firearm after searching his bag. Zwerner’s lawsuit also demands the installation of metal detectors in the school.
Michelle Price, a spokesperson for the school district, said that the child’s bag was searched after they got a tip about a possible firearm. “I’m not able to comment on whether other searches may have occurred, except for the fact that the superintendent has shared that the student’s backpack was searched and nothing was found at the time,” added Price.
Diane Toscano, Zwerner’s lawyer, said at a news conference in January that three teachers had previously approached school administration about the boy’s behavior and that he was believed to have had a gun on campus.
Toscano called the shooting “entirely preventable,” and said if the administration “had taken action when they had knowledge of imminent danger,” Zwirner would have been protected.
“But instead, they failed to act, and Abby was shot,” Toscano said in January.
While Zwirner was seriously wounded at the time, police said she still managed to safely escort 20 students out of her classroom. She was hospitalized for almost two weeks.