NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) – The Newport News Police Department responded to Richneck Elementary School for reports of a teacher shot on Jan. 6. Police believe a 6-year-old student intentionally shot and injured his first grade teacher, 25-year-old Abby Zwerner.
The NNPD’s investigation is ongoing, but on Jan. 9 NNPD Chief Steve Drew held a press conference and shared detailed information about the timeline of the shooting. This is a timeline of the case, as it stands currently:
Jan. 6, 11:30 a.m. – 6-year-old student arrives at Richneck Elementary School
A 6-year-old student, who police believe later shot his first grade teacher, arrived to Richneck Elementary School at 11:30 a.m. on Jan. 6. His backpack was searched after at least one administrator was informed he may have had a weapon o him, but they did not find a gun.
Jan. 6, 1:59 p.m. – Dispatch receives call for service
Newport News dispatchers received a 911 call advising that a teacher was shot at Richneck Elementary School. They would later learn that Abby Zwerner was providing instruction to her first grade class when a 6-year-old student shot her in the chest. Despite her injury, Zwerner evacuated her classroom to safety before going to the school’s administrative office and receiving first aid.
Jan. 6, 2 p.m. – NNPD dispatched to Richneck Elementary School
NNPD officers and personnel from across the city were dispatched to Richneck Elementary School at 2 p.m.
Jan. 6, 2:04 p.m. – Deputies arrive at Richneck Elementary School
Newport News sheriff’s deputies arrived at Richneck Elementary School and entered the first grade classroom where the shooting happened at 2:04 p.m. When they entered the classroom, they found a 6-year-old child being physically restrained by a school employee. The child became combative, but officers took him into custody, escorted him out of the building, and placed him in a police car. Officers monitored him inside and outside of the police car.
Jan. 6, 2:06 p.m. – Medics arrive at Richneck Elementary School
Medics arrived at Richneck Elementary School at 2:06 p.m. They were cleared to enter the building one minute later and made contact with Zwerner by 2:09 p.m. They transported her to a local hospital at 2:11 p.m.
Jan. 6 – Officers evacuate students
After the 6-year-old suspected of the shooting was taken into custody, officers began clearing Richneck Elementary School and evacuating students. Officers and faculty took students to the gymnasium where they stayed until they were reunited with their families. Children who witnessed the shooting were taken to the library where they were monitored by detectives, teachers, and school counselors. Children were reunited with their families within about three hours of the police department’s initial response.
Jan. 6 – Forensics enters the school
After police deemed the school safe, forensics entered Richneck Elementary School and processed the crime scene. They found one spent shell casing, a backpack, a cellphone, and a 9 millimeter Taurus handgun.
Jan. 8 – Stop the Violence rally
The 2nd Annual Not My Child Stop the Violence Rally was held in Newport News on Jan. 8. Attendees spoke openly about gun violence in their communities and brainstormed possible solutions.
Jan. 9, 4 p.m. – Drew provides details into investigation
Chief Drew held a press conference at 4 p.m. on Jan. 9. He was able to provide more details about the NNPD’s investigation into the shooting at Richneck Elementary School. He confirmed the 6-year-old got the gun from his home and that it was legally purchased by his mother in York County.
Jan. 9, 6:30 p.m. – Community vigil for injured teacher
Community members gathered to pray for Zwerner and her students. The 25-year-old teacher remains hospitalized in Newport News, but is in stable condition.
Jan. 12, 4 p.m. – Newport News Public Schools holds press conference
NNPS hosted a press conference and provided security updates following the shooting at Richneck Elementary School. During the press conference, NNPS announced it will allocate funding to installing metal detectors in all city schools.
Jan. 12, 6:30 p.m. – NNPS hosts virtual town hall
NNPS hosted a virtual town hall for Richneck Elementary School parents. During the town hall, Superintendent Dr. George Parker provided updates about the shooting investigation and security.
Rep. Bobby Scott hosts a roundtable
Rep. Bobby Scott hosted a roundtable with school and community leaders following the shooting at Richneck Elementary School. He invited school safety and child development experts, parents, school leaders, and local officials.