• Mon. Jul 22nd, 2024

Virginia teacher shot by 6-year-old worries about other students, hopes their happiness wasn’t ‘stripped away’


Jan 7, 2024


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The former Virginia schoolteacher who was shot last year by one of her first-grade students said she still worries about the other students and wonders how they are doing during a series of interviews with local media. 

“I hope that they are enjoying school, enjoying their second-grade year,” Abby Zwerner, 26, told The Virginian-Pilot newspaper before the Jan. 6 anniversary of the incident. “I hope that they’re still kind to their classmates, kind to teachers. I hope that they still have happiness, and that their happiness wasn’t completely stripped away.”

Zwerner gave several interviews about the shooting that left her physically and emotionally scared. The story made national headlines and Zwerner received warmth from strangers across the world.


Abby Zwerner in court

Abby Zwerner, a teacher who was shot at Richneck Elementary School in Newport News, Va., by her 6-year-old student last year, talks to a reporter Wednesday in Virginia Beach. (Stephen M. Katz /The Virginian-Pilot via AP)

“The amount of kindness that people still have, that really resonates with me,” she told 13News Now. “That helps me remember that, just because something terrible happened to me that should never have happened, there’s still kindness and good left in the world.”

Zwerner is suing Newport News Public Schools for $40 million, alleging the district ignored multiple warnings that the boy had a gun and was in a violent mood.

The school board has tried to block the lawsuit, arguing that Zwerner is eligible only for workers compensation under Virginia law. But a judge ruled in November that the lawsuit can proceed to trial.

A statement to Fox News Digital from school board attorney Anne Lahren said a two-year statute of limitations for seeking benefits would otherwise expire before the trial’s scheduled start date next year.

“Our research has determined that there is legal authority allowing an employer to file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits on behalf of an employee with the Workers’ Compensation Commission,” the statement said. “It has been one year tomorrow since Abigail Zwerner was shot in her classroom by a six-year-old student. She has recently given interviews expressing worry about medical expenses arising from her injuries, all of which would be covered for her lifetime by workers’ compensation benefits.”

Abby Zwerner shows her injured hand in court

Abby Zwerner shows reporter Peter Dujardin the scars on her left hand, Wednesday, in Virginia Beach, Va.  (Stephen M. Katz /The Virginian-Pilot via AP)

“There is a two-year statute of limitations for seeking these benefits,” the statement continued. “We do not want to see these significant benefits jeopardized by letting the deadline for filing lapse. We firmly believe that the Workers’ Compensation Commission is the correct forum to determine this case, not the Circuit Court.”

In addition, a claim was filed on behalf of the school board for Zwerner to “be awarded full benefits, including lifetime medical benefits, which she can receive immediately following such award, and maximum wages allowed under the Workers’ Compensation Act.”

The mother of the boy who shot Zwerner, Deja Taylor, was sentenced to two years in prison for felony neglect and federal weapons charges. The child told authorities he got his mother’s handgun by climbing onto a drawer to reach the top of a dresser, where the firearm was in his mom’s purse. Taylor initially told police she secured her gun with a trigger lock, but investigators said they never found one.


Mother of a 6-year-old who shot his teacher in Virginia

Deja Taylor, the mother of the 6-year-old who shot his teacher in Virginia, was sentenced last month to two years in prison for child neglect.  (Stephen M. Katz/The Virginian-Pilot via AP/File)

After the shooting, the boy allegedly bragged about it.

“I shot that b—- dead,” the boy said on Jan. 6, 2023, just moments after the shooting, according to Amy Kovac, a reading specialist at Richneck Elementary School. Kovac rushed into the classroom afterward and restrained the child until police arrived. 


Zwerner said she doesn’t plan to go back to teaching. She said she hasn’t been in touch with her former students and that “it’s still been really hard to think of the last time I was with them. And then I think about their last time that they were with me.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 


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