Virginia: A 6-years-old boy shoots his teacher


Virginia: A 6-years-old boy shoots his teacher

A Virginia teacher who was shot and killed by a 6-year-old student was seriously injured in Newport News, the city's mayor said Saturday; signs of improvement as authorities struggle to understand how a young child could have been involved in a school shooting. 

Newport News Mayor Philip Jones said the teacher's condition, a woman in her 30s, is "heading in a positive direction" because she remains in the hospital.

According to authorities, the teacher was infected in a first-grade classroom Friday at Rechnik Elementary School. Police Chief Steve Drew said the shooting was not accidental and was part of an altercation but did not elaborate. No students were injured.

Jones declined to release additional details Saturday about the cause of the row, citing an ongoing police investigation. He also did not comment on how the boy got access to the gun or who owned the gun.

"This is a red flag for the country," Jones said.

"I think there will be a nationwide discussion about how to prevent these kinds of things after this event."

Experts who have studied gun violence said the shooting represented an extremely rare occurrence of a young child bringing a gun into a school and hitting a teacher.

"It's very rare and not something the legal system was designed or put in place to deal with," said researcher David Redman, founder of a database that tracks US school shootings dating back to 1970.

On Saturday, he said he was aware of three other shootings involving 6-year-olds in the period he studied. Those included the fatal shooting of a fellow student in 2000 in Michigan and shootings that injured other students in 2011 in Texas and 2021 in Mississippi.

Redman said he knows of only one other case of a younger student causing a school shooting, in which a 5-year-old student brought a gun to a Tennessee school in 2013 and accidentally fired it. No one was hurt in this case.

Daniel W. Webster, a professor at Johns Hopkins University who studies gun violence, agrees that the shooting of a 6-year-old teacher is very unusual. But he said his research shows that cases of young children reaching for loaded guns and unintentionally shooting themselves or others in homes or other settings are increasing.

"Sadly, it's not very rare for a 6-year-old to get a loaded gun and shoot himself or someone else," he said in an email.

In the Newport News case, Police Chief Steve Drew said Friday that the shooting did not appear to be an accident and had been isolated from the only victim. He said the student and the teacher knew each other in the classroom.

"We've never had a situation where someone was shooting up a school," Drew told reporters.

He said the boy had been carrying a gun in class, and investigators were trying to figure out where he got it.

Newport News Public Schools said on Facebook that parents and students met in a gymnasium.

The police chief declined to discuss the investigators' contact with the boy's parents.

"We've been in contact with [the local attorney's] Commonwealth Solicitors and some other entities to help us provide the best services for this young man," Drew said.

Newport News is a city of about 185,000 people in southeastern Virginia, best known for its shipyard, which builds the country's aircraft carriers and other items for the US Navy. Navy ships.

Richneck has about 550 students in kindergarten through fifth grade, according to the Virginia Department of Education website. School officials have already said that there will be no classes on Monday.

"Today, our students were given a lesson in gun violence and what guns can do to disrupt not only the educational environment but also the family and community," said George Parker III, superintendent of Newport News Schools.

Virginia law does not allow children under the age of 6 to be tried as adults.

In addition, a 6-year-old is too young to be required to take custody of the Ministry of Juvenile Justice if found guilty.

However, the juvenile judge will have the power to revoke custody of a parent and place the child under the supervision of the Department of Social Services. 

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