NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) – Newport News Police Chief Steve Drew was at Richneck Elementary on the first day back for students since the Jan. 6 shooting at the school.
He watched the process of metal detectors being in use and greeted students while showing compassion and trying to ease students back into the life they once knew.
“Some parents want to walk their children to class, had them signed in,” Drew said. “Metal detectors were working. If they stepped into the detector and it was alerted, they stepped to the side and checked the clear backpack, sometimes with a wand.”
It was described as what looks like a first day of school for kindergartners, as many students arrived with parents, and there were police and fire officials on hand greeting everyone returning to the school following 15 missed days of classroom education.
“They are in the front, welcoming the students in, shaking hands, doing high fives,” said Newport News School Board Chairwoman Lisa Surles-Law. “We are all giving out roses from the city council and school board who decided to do this jointly for our teachers.”
As first reported Friday, the classroom where the shooting occurred will no longer be classroom with children in it.
“What was Abby Zwerner’s classroom is now a brand-new classroom,” Surles-Law said. “The community came together and painted it, and to put some things in that room, and to make it very welcoming as a new place, and a new start for them for this school year.”
As the students return, they will find the classroom where the shooting took place is no longer a classroom, and there are other changes too,
“We have some open classrooms, and we have some doors that were put into place for those classrooms,” Surles-Law said.
Drew also provided an update on the investigation into the shooting.
“I will tell you this they started writing the official report to the Commonwealth’s Attorney (Howard Gwynn) that has started,” Drew said
Drew also told us about the final report on what happened and how it happened, getting it ready for the Commonwealth’s Attorney,
“I got a little projection on when they will submit it to the Commonwealth’s Attorney,” Drew said. “I’m not going to you that date, but it is coming. It’s still one or two days ahead of where I thought they would be.”
Drew gave the impression we will know exactly what happened and how it happened,
“I think we got a good idea on how it happened,” Drew said. “I’m not going to report that date, but I’m looking forward to giving it to the Commonwealth’s Attorney to review.”
Drew told us it seemed like students and teachers were happy, though there were tears as parents dropped their children off for school again.
“I said ‘Ma’am, can I talk to you? And she turned around, and she had tears in her eyes,” Drew said, “and I said its OK, and we hugged each other.”
Then he got a little choked up thinking about the moment before he added:
“She had a hard day today.”