Following the announcement by a Virginia prosecutor that a 6-year-old student will not be charged in the shooting of his teacher, it is unclear if any charges will be filed in the case.
The student, who has not been publicly identified, allegedly shot Abigail Zwerner, 25, on Jan. 6 with a gun he brought to school from his home. Police have determined that the shooting, which left Zwerner with “life-threatening injuries,” was not an accident.
On Wednesday, Newport News Commonwealth’s Attorney Howard Gwynn told NBC News that he did not believe there is a legal basis to charge the child. He reportedly said that “the prospect of a 6-year-old standing trial is problematic” because such a young child would not be able to understand the legal system and participate in his own defense.
Gwynn indicated to the network that the investigation could still result in criminal prosecution.
“Our goal is not just to do something as quickly as possible,” Gwynn said. “After analyzing all the facts, we charge any person or persons who we believe we can prove beyond a reasonable doubt committed a crime.”
Gwynn’s office did not immediately respond to a request from Law&Crime Thursday for an update on the investigation.
Newport News Police Chief Steve Drew had previously indicated that the boy’s mother may face charges. Weeks after the shooting, the child’s parents released a statement through their attorney, saying the gun had been secured and that their child had an “acute disability,” which usually included one of his parents coming to school with him.
A lawyer for Zwerner has accused the school of repeatedly ignoring warnings that the boy — who reportedly had a history of violence, including apparently choking a teacher until she couldn’t breathe — had a gun with him that day.
“The administration couldn’t be bothered,” Diane Toscano said at a news conference in late January, adding that a school administrator downplayed the risk, saying the boy “has small pockets.”
Days later, it was announced that senior management at Richneck Elementary had been pulled from the school and the superintendent was parting ways with the district.
At the news conference, Toscano indicated a lawsuit was pending, but a search of Virginia court records Thursday did not indicate a lawsuit has yet been filed.
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