How 6-Year-Old Got Gun Used in Virginia Shooting

Mom said she believed gun was locked, but police say no locks were found in home
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 10, 2023 1:00 AM CDT
More Details Revealed About How 6-Year-Old Got Gun Used in Virginia Shooting
FILE - Messages of support for teacher Abby Zwerner, who was shot by a 6-year-old student, grace the front door of Richneck Elementary School Newport News, Va., on Jan. 9, 2023.   (AP Photo/John C. Clark, File)

Newly unsealed documents in the January shooting of a Virginia elementary school teacher are revealing more details about the case, including the fact that the 6-year-old who shot first-grade teacher Abigail Zwerner told school officials afterward that he had taken his mother's gun the night prior. According to a probable cause statement cited by NBC News, the child's mother, Deja Taylor, told police that she believed the .9mm semi-automatic handgun was in her purse on top of the dresser in her bedroom, with a trigger lock in place. The key for the lock, she told police, would have been underneath her mattress. She also told police that at other times, the gun would have been kept in a lock box.

But, according to prosecutors, "a lockbox was not found in either of the residences, nor was a trigger lock or key to a trigger lock ever found." Newport News police have previously said the investigation into how exactly the boy got the gun, and whether it was properly secured, was continuing. Taylor, 26, pleaded guilty to federal charges in the case and faces up to 25 years behind bars when she is sentenced in October, the BBC reports. She also faces state charges in the case, and a plea hearing on those charges is scheduled for Aug. 15. Meanwhile, the reading specialist who restrained the boy after Zwerner was shot is speaking out publicly on the incident for the first time.

"While I was holding him, he told me he had gotten his mom's gun the night before and put it in his backpack. He also told me he only had time to load one bullet," Amy Kovac tells the Washington Post. She says she ran into the classroom after hearing the gunshot and saw Zwerner's students, followed by an injured Zwerner, running from the room. She took the boy, who had been her one-on-one reading student since the school year began and with whom she had a good relationship, by the hand and led him to the front of the room, away from the gun, which was on the floor next to him when she arrived. She held him there in her arms as she called 911 and waited for police to arrive. See the full interview at the Post. (The boy allegedly bragged about the shooting afterward.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.