Teacher shot by 6-year-old gives her first interview

Her name is Abigail Zwerner and she’s the elementary school teacher in Virginia who became national news after she was shot by a 6-year-old on January 6. Zwerner was praised after the shooting because, despite being hit in the hand and the chest, she got all 20 of the kids in her class out of the room before leaving herself. She then spent two weeks in the hospital and has had multiple surgeries. Now she’s given her first interview to NBC News which will be aired in full tomorrow morning.

Zwerner, speaking publicly for the first time in an interview to air Tuesday on the “TODAY” show, said she faces “obstacles and challenges” following multiple operations after being shot in her left hand and upper chest. Her occupational therapy appointments have also left her physically and mentally exhausted, she told “TODAY” co-anchor Savannah Guthrie.

“Some days are not so good days, where I can’t get up out of bed. Some days are better than others, where I’m able to get out of bed and make it to my appointments,” said Zwerner, 25, with her left hand bandaged after a recent fourth surgery to help a bone that was severely damaged.

Zwerner is filing a lawsuit later this month against the school system citing failures to respond to warnings that the boy had come to school armed.

According to a notice of intent to sue provided to the Newport News school board on Jan. 24, the boy was given a one-day suspension for breaking Zwerner’s cellphone and returned the next day with a 9mm Taurus handgun that he used to shoot his teacher in the classroom while she sat at a reading table.

Three teachers had gone to the school administration about the boy’s behavior and the suspicion he had a gun on campus, Toscano said. A source close to the incident told NBC News that Zwerner had texted a loved one before she was wounded saying the boy was armed and that school officials were failing to act.

After the shooting, the Newport News school superintendent lost his job. A vice principal at the school resigned and the school’s principal was reassigned. She claimed she was never informed about the possibility the student had a gun.

At a press conference on January 25, Zwerner’s attorney revealed that administrators were warned three times about the gun. If you listen to this clip it really does sound like an open and shut case against the school. A student came forward and said the boy had shown him the gun but threatened to shoot him if he told anyone. And still they did nothing. Why not just call the police and let them handle it? The only speculation I can offer to make sense of it is that the administrators were worried about the “school to prison pipeline” and didn’t want to involve police. That’s purely a guess on my part but I just can’t imagine what else would explain the refusal to act.

As for the gun itself, it came from the boy’s parents who claim it was stored on a high shelf in a closet with a trigger lock. They have not explained how their son got it.

The boy won’t be charged with anything because of his age. The thinking is that no child at age six is capable of planning a crime or of understanding the justice system. That’s probably true though in this case it does sound like the boy had it out for this teacher (having broken her phone the day before) and made a plan to harm her. The DA is still weighing charges against the parents.

Here’s a bit of the interview with Zwerner.



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