VA teacher attacked by 6-year-old boy recalls taking action

Abigail Zwerner, a Virginia 1st grade teacher shot by a 6-year-old student in January, is speaking out in her first public interview. Zwerner sat down with Savannah Guthrie for an interview that aired Tuesday, March 21 on NBC’s TODAY.

Zwerner details what happened that day, as well as her recovery so far.

RELATED: UPDATE: 6-year-old student who hit Virginia teacher will not be charged

Abigail Zwerner says she’s trying to stay positive during her recovery

On January 6, Abigail Zwerner was working as a 1st grade teacher at Richneck Elementary School in Newport News, Virginia. EQUAL Shade room Previously reported, a 6-year-old student allegedly brought a 9mm pistol from her home and into her classroom.

Zwerner attempted to confiscate the child’s gun when he intentionally shot her. The incident left Zwerner in a stable but “serious” condition and she was therefore hospitalized for two weeks.

The 25-year-old recalled the day of the incident, adding that it felt like “just an ordinary school day”. But as the days passed, a feeling of dread began to grow within her. The students then pulled out their guns.

“I remember him pointing the gun at me. I remember the look on his face. I remember gunfire. I remember feeling something. It was a pretty scary day.”

Zwerner went on to emphasize the fear she had at the time.

“There are some things that I will never forget. And I will never forget the look on his face when he pointed the gun at me. That is something I will never forget. It changed me. It changed my life.”

Despite being wounded by bullets, Zwerner’s main focus remains on her children and getting them to safety.

“At that point, my initial reaction was, ‘Your kids need to get out of here… and then you need to go get help for yourself.’ That in itself was quite shocking. But I just want to get my kids out of there.”

Zwerner’s actions saved her life and her recovery ever since

Zwerner explained that the bullet initially went through her left hand, breaking several bones. The bullet then entered the left side of her chest, leaving some debris inside her body – which she said would most likely stay there for the rest of her life. The 25-year-old explained that her injuries could be “fatal”. But one act of hers saved her life.

“It can be fatal. We believe – with me raising my hand, with it going through my arm first – we believe that, by having the bullet go through my arm first, it most likely saved my life.

Speaking to Guthrie, Zwerner revealed that the incident initially left her “traumatised”. However, she is trying to stay positive during her healing process.

“I’m OK. That is a challenge. I went through a lot of obstacles and challenges. Some days are not so good, I can’t get out of bed. Some days are better than others, when I can get out of bed and get to my appointments. But to get through what I’ve been through, I try to stay positive. You know, try to have a positive view of what happened and where my future is going.”

Zwerner is pushing a lawsuit against the Newport News School Board

EQUAL Shade room previously reported, the 6-year-old student will not face criminal charges. However, Zwerner plans to hold the Newport News School Board accountable for their negligence.

Based on NBC News, Zwerner’s attorney, Diane Toscano, shared his intention to file a lawsuit against the Newport News School Board. The lawsuit will be filed in two weeks and is said to assert that three teachers went to school authorities on January 6, concerned about the student’s behavior.

Additionally, Zwerner explained that the child threatened to “hit another student” that day. A second teacher is said to have searched his backpack that day to no avail. Later, a third teacher allegedly saw another child looking at guns during recess.

NBC News reported that the principal of the school at the time of the shooting, Briana Foster Newton, had been fired. However, Toscano believes there are “multiple levels” of failure in this case.

“I can tell you that there has been failure on many levels in this case and there are adults in positions of authority who could have prevented this tragedy from happening but did not… I have met attorneys for both the school board and the city of Newport News, and they will have to answer in court.”

NBC News contacted James Ellenson, the attorney for the 6-year-old boy’s family, who responded with a statement regarding these new developments.

We welcome the prosecutor’s decision and continue to pray for a full recovery for Ms. Zwerner.


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