[Breaking news update, published at 4:33 p.m. ET]
The family of the 6-year-old Virginia boy who allegedly shot his first-grade teacher at Richneck Elementary School issued a statement for the first time since the shooting, calling the event “an unimaginable tragedy.”
“Our hearts go out to our son’s teacher and we pray for her healing after such an unimaginable tragedy as she selflessly served our son and the children at school,” the Thursday statement said.
[Previous story, published at 4:05 p.m. ET]
The Virginia elementary school teacher who was wounded in a classroom shooting nearly two weeks ago has been released from the hospital, according to a spokesperson for the facility.
Abby Zwerner, 25, was shot on January 6 at Richneck Elementary School in Newport News. Police have said a 6-year-old first grader was responsible.
Zwerner was shot in the chest after the bullet passed through one of his hands, Newport News Police Chief Steve Drew told reporters.
Riverside Regional Medical Center spokeswoman Angela Arcieri said Zwerner was released earlier this week.
“(Zwerner) continues her recovery as an outpatient with the support of family, friends and healthcare professionals. The Zwerner family respectfully requests privacy during this time,” Arcieri wrote in an emailed statement.
Police described the shooting, which initially left Zwerner seriously injured, as “intentional.”
Zwerner has been praised for her heroic actions in keeping her students safe after she was shot. She made sure all of her students left the classroom, Drew said, and she was the last person to leave her classroom before heading to the administration office.
The gun allegedly used in the shooting was legally purchased by the boy’s mother, who could face charges at the end of the investigation, according to Drew. The boy brought it to school in his backpack. It is unclear how the boy accessed the gun.
Under Virginia law, it is a misdemeanor for an adult to leave a firearm loaded and unsecured in such a way as to endanger a child under the age of 14. The statute also says it is illegal for a person to unknowingly allow a child under the age of 14. 12 to use a firearm.
The school classrooms are closed until at least January 30, when the next semester begins. Officials have “arranged a time for Richneck families to begin transitioning students back into the building” next Wednesday, according to the school’s website.
The school is hosting emotional support services on Thursdays and Fridays for students and families.
Richneck’s shooting was the first of 2023 at a US school, according to a CNN analysis. In 2022, there were 60 shootings at K-12 schools, CNN analysis shows.
Still, school shootings by such a young suspect are very rare. According to the K-12 School Shooting Database, which tracks shootings in American schools since 1970, there have been three other cases in which the suspect was as young as 6: in 2000, 2011 and 2021.