NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) – The mother of the Virginia elementary student who police say shot his teacher in January is now facing federal gun charges.
Court documents indicate that Deja Taylor, the mother of the 6-year-old boy who police say shot Richneck Elementary School teacher Abby Zwerner, faces federal charges of unlawful user of a controlled substance in possession of a firearm and making a false statement during the purchase of a firearm. It states she “was an unlawful user of marijuana.”
Taylor was indicted in April by a grand jury on charges of felony child neglect and misdemeanor recklessly leaving a loaded firearm so as to endanger a child.”
The court filing states that “on or about July 19, 2022,” Taylor knew she was an unlawful user of a controlled substance and possessed a firearm – a Taurus model PT111, G2A 9mm semiautomatic handgun.
It also states that she “knowingly made a false and fictitious written statement to Winfree Firearms,” that she was not an unlawful user of marijuana, “when in fact, she then knew she was an unlawful user of marijuana.”
Zwerner was shot in the hand and chest in January at Richneck Elementary School in Newport News as she sat at a reading table in her classroom. The 25-year-old teacher spent nearly two weeks in the hospital and required four surgeries.
The shooting sent shockwaves through the military shipbuilding community and the country, with many wondering how a child so young could access a gun and shoot his teacher.
Attorneys for Zwerner filed a $40 million lawsuit against the school district, alleging gross negligence and reckless breach of duty against the school board and three former administrators at the school. The suit says they failed to protect Zwerner against the student despite multiple warnings.
Attorneys representing the school system and the former administrators filed a plea in late April asking a Newport News Circuit Court judge to dismiss Zwerner’s lawsuit. They argued that Zwerner’s injuries are covered under the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act because she was shot while doing her job. The law provides benefits for employees injured on the job but prohibits them from suing their employers if they were hurt during the course of their duties.
Zwerner’s attorneys told Nexstar’s WAVY in a statement:
No one believes that a first grade teacher should expect that one of the risks of teaching first grade is that you might get shot by a 6-year-old. The school board’s position is contrary to how every citizen in Newport News thinks teachers should be treated, and the law does not support the board’s position. Teachers across the district will be alarmed to learn their employer sees this as part of the job description.DIANE TOSCANO AND JEFFREY BREIT, ATTORNEYS FOR ABBY ZWERNER