Virginia lawmakers honor teacher shot by 6-year-old student

(Billy Schuerman/The Virginian-Pilot/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

(NEWPORT NEWS, Va.) — Virginia lawmakers on Wednesday passed a resolution recognizing Abby Zwerner, 25, for what they characterized as courageous actions, saying she earned the state’s “admiration for her courage and dedication to the safety of her students.” The honor follows after the teacher was allegedly shot by a 6-year-old student back in January.

Zwerner attended the honor ceremony and was accompanied by family members.

“Thank you for all that you do for our children, and the lives that you no doubt saved,” Lt. Gov. Winsome Earle-Sears told Zwerner. Previously, Newport News Police Chief Steve Drew called Zwerner a “hero” who “saved lives.”

Deja Taylor, the mother of a 6-year-old student in Virginia who allegedly shot a first-grade teacher in January, turned herself into law enforcement Thursday. She faces a maximum of six years in prison for charges related to child neglect and allowing her child to access a firearm.

She posted a $5,000 bond, the Newport News Sheriff’s office told ABC News.

Police said the boy’s mother legally purchased the gun. Her attorney, James Ellenson, has said the gun was secured on a top shelf in her closet and had a trigger lock.

In April Zwerner’s attorneys announced a $40 million lawsuit against the Newport News Public School system formally alleging school administrators ignored multiple warnings about the boy leading up to the shooting. In the lawsuit, they allege that Taylor’s son had a “history of random violence, with which all defendants were familiar.” His parents, according to the lawsuit “did not agree for him to be placed in special education classrooms” which dealt with children with behavioral issues.

Zwerner specifically accuses Assistant Principal Ebony Parker, who has since resigned, of failing to act despite being told repeatedly that the student had a gun at school.

Ellenson said Taylor has no prior criminal record. In January she told ABC News in a statement that her family “has always been committed to responsible gun ownership and keeping firearms out of the reach of children.”

“The firearm our son accessed was secured” she said, adding her family will regret their “absence on this day for the rest of our lives.” The gun used during the incident was legally purchased and owned by Taylor, they said.

In early January, authorities say Taylor’s 6-year-old son fired one round of a 9mm Taurus Armas pistol at teacher Zwerner in her classroom at Richneck Elementary School in Newport News. The bullet passed through Zwerner’s hand and into her chest, according to police. Despite being wounded, police said Zwerner ushered her students out of the classroom to safety and was the last person to leave the room. No students were physically injured during the incident.

The boy has been hospitalized since the shooting and is “receiving the treatment he needs.”

Following the shooting, the Newport News School Board announced it would hire two security officers and install 90 weapons detection systems throughout the division.

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