Lawyers for the Virginia teacher who was shot in the chest by a 6-year-old student say school administrators were warned three times that the boy had a gun and was threatening other students.
Diane Toscano, a lawyer for 25-year-old Abigail Zwerner, said during a news conference on Wednesday that on Jan. 6, the day the shooting occurred at Richneck Elementary School in Newport News, teachers and employees warned administrators three times that the boy had a gun on him and was threatening other students.
“On that day, over the course of a few hours, three different times, school administration was warned by concerned teachers and employees that the boy had a gun on him at the school and was threatening people,” Toscano said. “But the administration could not be bothered.”
Toscano went on to say that the tragedy was “entirely preventable” and alleged that school administrators failed to act when they had knowledge of imminent danger.
The first time the administrators were warned, Toscano said, was at around 11:15 am, when Zwerner told a school administrator that the 6-year-old had threatened to beat up another child.
“They didn’t call security, they didn’t remove the student from the classroom, and the school administration failed to act,” Toscano said.
Then, at around 12:30 pm, Toscano said that another teacher went to a school administrator and told them that she had taken it upon herself to search the bookbag of the boy that was suspected to have brought the gun to school.
“The teacher then tells that same administrator that she believes the boy put the gun in his pocket before going outside for recess,” Toscano said. “But the administration could not be bothered.”
“The administrator downplayed the report from the teacher and the possibility of a gun saying, and I quote, ‘Well, he has little pockets,'” she said, adding that school administrators did not call police over a report of a potentially armed student . “This is outrageous. … The school administrator failed to act and protect the school.”
Shortly after 1 pm, Toscano said a third teacher told administrators of a boy who was crying in fear after the 6-year-old suspect had shown him the gun at recess and threatened to shoot him if he told anybody.
“Did administrators call the police? No. Did the administrators lock down the school? No. Did the administrators evacuate the building? No,” Toscano said.
“When a fourth employee who heard about the danger asked the administrator for permission to search the boy, he was denied,” the lawyer added. “He was told to wait the situation out because the school day was almost over.”
Almost an hour later, Zwerner was shot.