Virginia mother of 6-year-old who shot his teacher will plead guilty to new federal charges

School Shooting Newport News
Messages of support for teacher Abby Zwerner, who was shot by a 6-year-old student, grace the front door of Richneck Elementary School Newport News, Va. on Jan. 9, 2023. Four months after a 6-year-old Virginia boy shot and wounded his teacher as she taught class, an attorney for the boy’s mother said it still is not clear how the boy got the gun. (AP Photo/John C. Clark, File)

Virginia mother of 6-year-old who shot his teacher will plead guilty to new federal charges

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The mother of the 6-year-old boy who shot his first-grade teacher at a school in Virginia will plead guilty to new federal charges.

Deja Taylor was arrested and indicted on state charges in April after her son shot Abigail Zwerner, 25, on Jan. 6 at Richneck Elementary School in Newport News, Virginia.


Taylor was charged in federal court on Monday with additional charges, including illegally using drugs while owning a firearm and making a false statement when she purchased the gun. She had said she was not an unlawful drug user despite using marijuana, per court records via ABC News.

James Ellenson, the attorney for Taylor, said in a statement that she would plead guilty to the federal charges.

“We intend to present mitigating evidence that we trust the Court will view favorably at sentencing later this year following preparation of a pre-sentence report,” Ellenson said.

Ellenson added that the shooting “was a tragedy for all parties, most especially teacher Abby Zwerner for whom we wish a complete recovery.”

Taylor has not yet entered a plea for state charges of one count of felony child neglect and one count of recklessly leaving a firearm to endanger a child. Taylor’s son will not be criminally charged.

Zwerner suffered gunshot wounds to her chest and hand but survived after spending two weeks in the hospital. Investigators determined the boy accessed the gun, which the family said was “secured” by a trigger lock on the top shelf of Taylor’s bedroom closet, and brought it to school.

Due to having a learning disability, one of the student’s parents typically attended classes with him. The week Zwerner was shot, family members had stopped going to the classroom.

It was revealed that the school district had been warned about Taylor’s son at least three times prior to the shooting, and he was previously suspended for an incident involving Zwerner as well.

Zwerner is suing the school district for $40 million over these previous warnings and a tip received the day of the shooting that the 6-year-old student might have a weapon in his backpack. School employees searched his bag upon arrival but did not locate the weapon, and it is unclear how the gun got into the classroom.

Taylor said she has accepted responsibility for the shooting and has since apologized to Zwerner.


“That is my son, so I am, as a parent, obviously, willing to take responsibility for him because he can’t take responsibility for himself,” Taylor said in an interview on May 10.

The Washington Examiner reached out to Ellenson for comment.

© 2023 Washington Examiner

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