NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) – State and local officials have issued statements following a shooting at Richneck Elementary School that left one teacher critically injured. Police say the 6-year-old suspect is in custody.

The call for the shooting came in around 2 p.m. Friday, January 6. Police say the teacher who was shot was taken to the hospital with life-threatening injuries.

Saturday afternoon, Newport News Mayor Phillip Jones issued this statement in response to the shooting incident:

“Newport News is a strong community, but we are saddened and disheartened by the terrible tragedy that took place at Richneck Elementary School. It is almost impossible to wrap our minds around the fact that a 6 year old 1st grader brought a loaded handgun to school and shot a teacher; however, this is exactly what our community is grappling with today. Our thoughts and prayers are with the teacher and her family, and we are hopeful that she will recover from this ordeal.

“This is still an active investigation, and the Newport News Police Department is working diligently to get an answer to the question we are all asking – how did this happen? We are also working to ensure the child receives the supports and services he needs as we continue to process what took place.

“I am extremely proud of all of our public servants – police officers, sheriff’s deputies, teachers and other school staff, fire personnel, etc. – who acted quickly to secure the scene, protect the children and get them reunited with their parents. They worked together seamlessly, and it is a result of these extraordinary efforts that we were able to ensure the safety of the school and the community.”

Newport News Mayor Phillip Jones

Jones also participated in a joint news conference with NNPD Friday, just hours after the shooting.

Newport News Superintendent George Parker III also released a statement Saturday in response to the shooting:

Families and Staff,

We are deeply saddened about the incident that occurred at Richneck Elementary on Friday, January 6, 2023. Our thoughts and prayers are with the faculty member who was injured, her family, and the entire Richneck school community. The safety of our students and staff is and always will be our first priority.

On Friday, January 6, 2023, a school shooting occurred in a first-grade classroom. The suspect has been identified as a 6-year-old male student and he is in custody. The victim has been identified as a classroom teacher. As of today, the teacher is reported to be in stable condition. We will continue to follow her progress and support her and her family during this difficult time. No students were injured during this incident.

I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the faculty and staff at Richneck Elementary, the Newport News Police Department, the Sheriff’s Office, and the Fire Department for their swift and professional response. Their collective efforts, coupled with the active shooter training provided to the staff of Richneck, ensured an immediate and coordinated response to this safety threat.

It is important that at this time we focus on the welfare of our Richneck students and staff. For that reason, we have canceled school Monday, January 9, 2023 and Tuesday, January 10, 2023 at Richneck Elementary School. All other schools and offices will report on schedule next week. This time will enable us to provide any supports needed for school staff and families as we continue to work with local authorities to assess what occurred and review our security procedures.

I would like to take this opportunity to remind our families that we have a plan in place at each of our schools to handle emergency situations. We work with closely with the NNPD and other first responders to prepare for these types of emergencies and regularly practice our safety procedures with students and staff through discussions and emergency exercises. While no amount of planning can guarantee that a tragedy such as this will not occur; please know that our collective efforts and preparation resulted in immediate medical care for our faculty member, no injuries to students, and a safe and efficient reunification process for our families and students.

In addition to offering onsite assistance at Richneck Elementary, with assistance from the Hampton-Newport News Community Services Board, the NNPS Crisis Team has established a 24-hour helpline, (757) 788-0635, which may be used by families and staff for assistance. Licensed therapists are available to assist parents and staff with tips for talking with children, counseling services and resource referrals. Click here to view additional guidance and tips.

We will continue to work with authorities to review what has transpired and most importantly learn from this experience. A six-year old student with access to a weapon brought that item to his first-grade classroom. There are many concerns that we will need to unpack before we will be able to determine if any additional preventive measures would have impacted the probability of this incident occurring. In addition to assessing our established safety procedures, we will need the support of our community to significantly reduce the likelihood of a child or young adult gaining access to a weapon.

The safety of our students and staff remains our greatest priority. We are in this together and our continued efforts will yield the greatest impact on school safety.

Please consider our school and division staff a resource, should you need support or guidance moving forward.

Newport News Superintendent George Parker III

Other officials shared messages and statements Friday:

The Uvalde Foundation For Kids has also issued a statement following the shooting:

The Uvalde Foundation For Kids Is Disheartened To Hear Of The Recent School Shooting In Newport News. Our Foundation Will Utilize To The Fullest Extent, Available Resources To Provide Needed Crisis Support For Students & The School Community including our 24 hour crisis call center and emergency financial support as needed for the victims family and community as needed.

Today’s Incident Highlights, yet again, The Need To Prioritize In This Nation, The Protection Of Our Schools, Our Students & The Communities Who Care For Them. 

Yet again, In Another School In This Nation; Students Are Facing Fear – Instead Of Joy; Lessons In Violence – Instead Of Peace.

The Uvalde Foundation For Kids