The Virginia teacher who was shot by her 6-year-old student texted a loved one before she was injured that the boy was armed and school officials failed to act, a woman claims. source close to the situation.
The source said Tuesday that Zwerner sent the text about an hour before she was shot on January 6, saying the student said he had a gun in his backpack and that administrators of the Richneck Elementary School in Newport News were not helping.
The text “showed frustration,” said the source, who only disclosed details of the single text message to NBC News and not the messages that preceded or followed it. “She was frustrated because she was trying to get help with this child, for this child, and then when she needed help, no one came.”
Asked about Zwerner’s text message and previous safety issues for teachers and staff, Newport News Public Schools spokeswoman Michelle Price said, “Anything that has been reported to our leadership team at school regarding concerns to Richneck from teachers and staff members is part of the investigation. It is the subject of a thorough investigation.
A law firm representing the Zwerner family said it could not confirm the text and did not respond to requests for comment from the family. A family attorney is scheduled to hold a press conference Wednesday morning.
News of Zwerner’s blunt warning comes after school system superintendent George Parker III told a virtual town hall this month that the boy had arrived at school late and his satchel had was inspected upon arriving at the office to sign in, according to parents who watched the meeting.
“At least one administrator has been notified of a possible weapon,” Parker said in a video reviewed by NBC News.
A Newport News police spokeswoman said authorities also determined during their investigation that “a school employee was made aware of a possible firearm at Richneck Elementary School before the shooting from happening,” adding, “The Newport News Police Department was not made aware of this information prior to the incident.
No further details were provided on who carried out the search, why the weapon was not found and whether the child’s clothing was physically examined.
Zwerner, 25, was hailed as a hero by police who said that after being intentionally shot and seriously injured in the hand and chest, she still managed to safely escort around 20 students out of his freshman class at Richneck. She was discharged from the hospital last week.
“I believe she saved lives, because I don’t know what else could have happened if those kids had stayed in that room,” Newport News Police Chief Steve Drew said during the interview. a press conference earlier this month.
No charges related to the case have been publicly announced.
Last week, The Washington Post reported that school administrators had played down previous warnings about the student despite repeated requests for help. School employees told Parker that Zwerner asked for help with the student “several times” throughout the school year, according to messages obtained by the Post and not independently verified by NBC. News. The messages do not indicate who Zwerner asked for help.
Another message from a teacher obtained by the Post details the student’s disturbing behavior leading up to the shooting, although the dates of the alleged behavior are unclear.
Richneck’s principal and vice-principal did not respond to Post requests for comment on the teacher’s account. School district spokeswoman Michelle Price told the Post she could “not share any information in a child’s school record” and also cited the ongoing police investigation and the school’s internal investigation. ‘school.
Drew said the child’s mother legally purchased the 9mm Taurus firearm used in the shooting and the boy took the gun home. That it was properly secured is a key part of the investigation, he said.
The family of the boy who shot Zwerner said in a statement last week that the gun was “safe” when the child took it from their home, but did not elaborate.
“Our family has always been committed to owning firearms responsibly and keeping firearms out of the reach of children. The firearm our son had access to has been secured,” the statement released by family attorney James Ellenson said.
The statement also said the boy “suffers from an acute disability and was under a care plan at school which included his mother or father attending school with him and accompanying him to class every In addition, our son has benefited from an extensive community of care which also includes his grandparents working alongside us and other caregivers to ensure his needs and accommodations are met. was the first week we weren’t in class with him. We will regret our absence that day for the rest of our lives.
Since the shooting, the statement added, the boy has been hospitalized to receive the “treatment he needs”.
Ellenson did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday night on Zwerner’s text message. before filming.
Richneck has been closed since the shooting. It is expected to reopen on Monday and will be equipped with a metal detector, school officials said.
The district has secured funding for 90 state-of-the-art metal detectors that will be placed in all schools in the district, officials said.
The school district has had three cases of gun violence in 17 months.