NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) – The executive director of the National Association of School Resource Officers said Friday it was “troublesome” that the now-former Richneck Elementary School principal did not know that there was a gun on campus the day of the Jan. 6 shooting.

The attorney for former Principal Briana Foster-Newton said Thursday that she was never told that there was, or may have been, a gun on school property the day police said a six-year old first-grader shot his teacher, Abby Zwerner.

A representative for the Alabama-based National Association of School Resource Officers viewed the 10 On Your Side report and said he found it common sense that the principal should know about the gun.

Newport News Public Schools confirmed Foster-Newton was at the school when the shooting took place, but after Thursday’s news conference, it appears she did not know there was a threat of gun on campus, even though many others seemed to know.  

“I repeat, Ms. Newton was unfortunately not one of the administrators who was informed by those in the school that day who had this critical information … about the gun,” according to Foster-Newton’s attorney Pamela Johnson Branch.

Mo Canady, executive director for the association, said Foster-Newton should have known there was a gun in the school that day.

“The more people that know about the gun, it is even more troublesome that the principal was not informed,” Canady said in a Zoom interview. “There has to be a system at some point where someone and hopefully through policy recognizes the person who is responsible for the building must know there is a threat.”

Canady is also concerned that neither 9-1-1 nor police was summoned to the school immediately at the first hint there may be a gun. 

In a previous interview, Newport News Police Chief Steve Drew said he was disappointed that a number of people seemed to know about the gun, but did not call 9-1-1 or the police.

“If there is a reason for it, I haven’t heard it yet, but I certainly this if we suspect a gun, 9-1-1 needs to be called immediately,” Canady said.

For Canady it’s common sense – fear there’s a gun then call 9-1-1.

“A weapons situation should rise to the most critical level,” Canady said, “and you’re building has a principal then she’s got to know about that.”

The investigation is still ongoing, but Drew said how those in responsibility, and how they responded, is a big part of that investigation. 

The association thinks every school should have a safety team that meets and practices – a principal or another administrator, a teacher, a school nurse, school psychologist, a counselor and a school resource officer. 

Drew is investigating whether personnel on scene lacked an urgency of the situation.

“I guarantee you, those are some of the questions being asked by the people who are interviewing the faculty and staff was this why, why not, and can you tell us why, and we have collected a lot of that information,” Drew said.

Drew also supports Newport News adding SROs to all elementary schools, but said it is up to the school system whether to do it. 

Canady obviously supports SROs.

“I think it is critically important,” Canady said. “We saw after the Sandy Hook massacre, we saw an increase in our officers who were going into elementary schools. There is a lot to be done there from a security and safety standpoint.”

Canady also points out SROs are a lot more than just a security blanket.  

“The other two things SROs bring to the table is the role of education where they can be a classroom presenter,” Canady said. “The other is in the roll of an informal counselor where they are helping students with all kinds of problems.” 

As 10 On Your Side first reported Monday, police investigators are now writing the final report that will be delivered to Newport News Commonwealth’s Attorney Howard Gwynn. He will determine the direction of the case and whether any charges will be filed against family members of the six-year-old.