The family of the Virginia boy who shot the first-grade teacher said the gun was secured

The family of a 6-year-old boy who shot a first-grade teacher in her classroom earlier this month said the gun recovered from his home was insured, according to a statement from his attorney.

Our family has always been committed to responsible gun ownership and keeping firearms out of the reach of children. The firearm our son accessed was seized,” according to a Thursday statement provided to NBC News by attorney James Ellenson.

The statement continued: “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. She has worked diligently and compassionately to support our family as we searched for the best education and learning environment for our son. We thank her for her courage, grace and sacrifice. We grieve along with all other teachers, families, and administrators at how this horrific incident has impacted them, our community, and the nation.”

In the January 6 shooting, Abigail Zwerner was seriously injured while teaching about 20 students. Werner survived and is recovering, authorities said.

Newport News Police Chief Steve Drew said the boy’s mother legally purchased the gun the boy took from her home. He said a key element in the investigation will be determining whether the weapon was properly secured. No charges have been announced in the case.

The family said the boy is disabled.

“Our son suffers from an acute disability and was under a care plan at school that included his mom or dad attending school with him and walking him to class every day. In addition, our son has benefited from an extensive community of care that also includes his grandparents who work alongside us and other caregivers to ensure his needs and accommodations are met. The week of the shoot was the first week we weren’t in class with him. We will mourn our absence on this day for the rest of our lives.”

Since the shooting, the statement added, the boy has been in a hospital receiving the “treatment he needs.”

“We continue to pray for the full recovery of her teacher and for her loved ones who are undoubtedly upset and concerned. At the same time, we love our son and ask that you include him and our family in your prayers,” the statement said.

School system superintendent George Parker III said during a Jan. 12 virtual town hall that it was not public that the boy had been late to school and that his backpack was inspected when he arrived at the office to sign in, according to parents who saw the meeting.

“At least one administrator was notified of a possible weapon,” Parker said in video reviewed by NBC News.

A Newport News police spokeswoman said authorities also determined through their investigation that “a school employee was notified of a possible firearm at Richneck Elementary before the shooting occurred,” adding: “The Newport News Police Department was not notified of this information prior to the incident. .”

No further details have been made available about who conducted the search, why the weapon was not found and whether the boy’s clothing was physically examined.

A Newport News police representative cited the ongoing investigation Thursday when he declined to comment. The school district could not immediately be reached for comment.

During a raucous school board meeting Tuesday night, parents, teachers and students told the superintendent and board members that teachers could not adequately discipline disruptive students.

The attendees also said the district has failed to adequately protect students and staff, noting that there have been three incidents of gun violence on school property in 17 months.

Prior to the Richneck shooting in September 2021, a 16-year-old fired multiple shots in a crowded hallway at Heritage High School during lunchtime, wounding two 17-year-olds, Portsmouth’s NBC affiliate WAVY reported. Virginia.

The shooter was sentenced to 10 years in prison, according to the station.

Less than two months later, in December, 18-year-old Demari Batten fatally shot 17-year-old Judge Dunham in the parking lot of Menchville High School after a football game against Woodside High School, also in the school system. public news from Newport News, according to WAVY. .

Quinn Chambers, 26, who has a son in kindergarten in Richneck, told NBC News at the school board meeting: “The district let us down. It’s the job of parents to raise kids, but The district’s job is to provide some form of safety and security.” .”

Richneck has been closed since the shooting.

District officials have said that when it reopens, the elementary school will be equipped with a metal detector. The district also secured funding for 90 state-of-the-art detectors to be placed on each district campus, officials said.

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