Police share new details on 6-year-old who shot Virginia teacher, say incident was ‘intentional’

A 6-year-old student intentionally shot his teacher when he opened fire in his elementary school classroom in Virginia using a handgun that his mother had legally obtained, police said.

The student allegedly fired a single gunshot at Richneck Elementary School on Jan. 6, leaving his teacher, Abigail Zwerner, in critical condition. Police said that despite her injuries, Zwerner evacuated her other students and was the last to leave the classroom.

"I believe she did save lives, because I don’t know what else might have happened if those kids would have stayed in that room," Steve Drew, chief of police at Newport News Police Department, said during a press conference on Jan. 9.

Abigail Zwerner, called Miss Z by her students, had life-threatening injuries from the shooting. (Abby Zwerner via Facebook)
Abigail Zwerner, called Miss Z by her students, had life-threatening injuries from the shooting. (Abby Zwerner via Facebook)

Drew said Zwerner was instructing her class when the student took the gun out. Zwerner, 25, took "a defensive position" where she raised her hand, according to Drew, and the round went through her hand, exited the rear of her hand and into her upper chest.

"This shooting was not accidental. It was intentional," Drew said. "She saved lives on Friday."

Zwerner, known as Miss Z to her students, is now awake and being treated at an area hospital.

"She is a trooper," Drew said. "She is a hero … She asked me this question, 'Do you know how my students are?' She was worried about them."

Investigators said the student brought the 9mm handgun to school in his backpack, and that his mother had legally purchased the firearm.

The child is under a temporary protection order and is receiving treatment at a medical facility. Police interviewed the child's mother after the shooting, adding local prosecutors will decide if any charges will be filed in the case.

Drew said it is unclear as to what charges would be brought against the child or his parents.

"This is an unprecedented situation that we’re dealing with," he said. "We’re dealing with a 6-year-old."

6-Year-Old Boy Shoots His Teacher At Richneck Elementary School In Newport News, Virginia (Jay Paul / Getty Images)
6-Year-Old Boy Shoots His Teacher At Richneck Elementary School In Newport News, Virginia (Jay Paul / Getty Images)

Newport News Public Schools Superintendent George Parker said during the press conference the school district will be making changes to its safety measures.

"I don’t believe anything would have avoided this circumstance right here unless kids went through a metal detector. So that’s something that we just have to consider moving forward," Parker said. "This incident right here will cause us to rethink how we handle our youngest children coming into our division."

Richneck Elementary will remain closed for the rest of the week, and child psychologists are working with students to help them process what they saw.

This article was originally published on TODAY.com