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Virginia elementary school shooting: Newport News school remains closed until Friday to give students ‘time to heal’

Virginia elementary school shooting: Newport News school remains closed until Friday to give students ‘time to heal’

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A Virginia elementary school will be closed this week to give students “time to heal” after a A 6-year-old boy is believed to have been shot and wounded a teacher there Friday, the school announced.

Less than a week into the new year, officers stormed the campus of Richneck Elementary School in Newport News — which still had a “Happy New Year” sign outside — and took the child into custody.

The boy shot the teacher in a classroom and it was not a random shooting, Police Chief Steve Drew said. The boy remains in police custody since Friday.

Before the shot rang out, there was an altercation between the teacher and the student who had the firearm, Drew said. A single round was fired and no other students were involved, he added.

“We’ve reached out to our attorney and some other organizations to best help us get services for this young man,” Drew said Friday.

According to Newport News Police Department.

The teacher was first identified by her alma mater, James Madison University, as Abby Zwerner.

The elementary school had an emergency plan in place that allowed for immediate medical attention for the injured teacher, Newport News Public Schools Superintendent George Parker said.

“Although no amount of planning can guarantee that a tragedy like this will not happen; please know that our collective efforts and preparation resulted in immediate medical attention for our faculty member, no student injuries, and a safe and efficient reunification process for our families and students,” Parker said.

As the investigation continues and police investigate how the young boy gained access to a firearm and what led to the shooting, community members are grappling with what happened.

“It’s a very difficult thing to process,” Newport News Mayor Philip Jones told CNN on Sunday. “The fact that we have a 6-year-old with the ability to bring a gun into school and hurt his teacher is something we’re still struggling with.”

The mayor did not want to comment on the child’s family and their involvement in the investigation.

“There are a lot of questions we need to answer as a community,” the mayor added. “Also, how could a 6-year-old child have a gun, know how to use it in such a deliberate manner… Those responsible will be held accountable.” I can promise that.”

The shootings at American schools happened much more common than they are in any other country. In 2022, there were at least 60 K-12 school shootings, according to a CNN analysis.

After Friday’s shooting, students at the school described the harrowing moment a lockdown was imposed. “We were doing math … a speaker came on, she said, ‘Lock, I repeat lock,'” said fifth-grader Nova Jones, who was in another classroom.

“I was scared … it was like my first lockdown and I didn’t know what to do, so I just hid under my desk like everyone else.”

Novah initially believed there was a man with a gun at the school, she said in an interview with CNN with her and her mother.

“I thought…someone was going to shoot us,” Nova said.

Parents rushed to the scene as news of the shooting spread, reliving a nightmare shared by families of students in so many other American schools.

When Mark Anthony Garcia heard about the shooting, he rushed to the school where his son is in second grade.

“There were police helicopters everywhere outside, traffic was backed up,” he told “CNN This Morning” on Monday. “Then there was a 2-mile radius cut off by parked cars and people running around trying to actually get to the scene.”

Garcia’s son, Mark Jr., said his teacher heard the shooting and took his class back to their classroom, “and when we got there, we were all quiet.”

“Two people were crying,” he said. “And when the cops came, we were marching to the gym.”

After the shooting, all students at the school were evacuated from their classrooms along with their teachers and taken to the gym where they were with counselors and staff, the police chief said CNN affiliate WTKR.

Although she was able to get home safely, Nova said she had trouble sleeping that night, worried that “he still had the gun and was going to come to my house.”

“I had like flashbacks,” Nova said.

Licensed therapists are available to help parents with tips on talking to children, counseling services and resource referrals, Richneck Elementary said in update on your website.

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