Before the teacher was shot, the first-grader’s backpack was searched at the school

Administrators at the Newport News, Va., elementary school where a first-grader shot and killed his teacher learned the child may have had a weapon before the shooting, the school system superintendent said.

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Administrators at a Virginia school where a first-grader shot his teacher It was learned last week that the child may have had a weapon before the shooting, but the 9mm handgun he brought was not found despite a search of his bag, the school system superintendent said.

Police said Friday they were not notified of the shooting. Kelly King, spokeswoman for the Newport News Police Department, told The Associated Press that shortly after the shooting, police learned through an investigation that a school resource officer had been notified of a possible weapon at Richneck Elementary School before the Jan. 6 shooting.

“The Newport News Police Department was not notified of this information prior to the incident,” King wrote in an email.

Michelle Price, spokeswoman for the Newport News School District, declined to comment on the police statement. She said that typically when school officials receive a tip about potential weapons or other contraband in schools, if the tip contains specific information about a particular student or a particular class, “that’s where the search begins.”

“I can’t comment on whether there may have been other searches, other than the fact that the supervisor said they searched the student’s backpack and nothing was found at that time,” Price told The Associated Press.

Superintendent George Parker said during an online meeting with parents Thursday night that at least one school administrator was alerted that the boy might have a gun before the 6-year-old shot the teacher.

Parker’s comments were reported for the first time HVALI-TV. The online meeting was for parents only, but WAVY-TV reported that the station obtained access to the meeting from the parents. On Friday, Price confirmed the superintendent’s comments.

Police Chief Steve Drew previously said the boy brought a gun to school in his backpack on the day of the shooting.

Price said she was not told where school officials kept the gun when they searched the boy’s backpack.

“It’s probably part of our internal investigation and the police investigation, but nothing has been made public about it,” Price said.

She declined to comment when asked who reported the boy might have a weapon and whether school officials should have taken additional action after no weapon was found in his backpack.

teacher, Abigail ZwernerA 25-year-old man was shot in the chest with injuries that were initially believed to be life-threatening. However, her condition has improved and she is in hospital in a stable condition.

Earlier Thursday, Newport News School Board Chairwoman Lisa Searles-Lowe said the district would install metal detectors at all schools, starting with Rychneck.

The shooting happened on January 6, when Zwerner was teaching in her class. Authorities said there was no warning and no struggle before the 6-year-old boy pointed the gun at Zwerner.

Drew called the shooting intentional. The judge will determine what to do next with the child who is in a medical facility under the emergency care order.

Drew said the child was using his mother’s gun, which was purchased legally. It is not yet clear how he got access to the weapon. Virginia law makes it a misdemeanor to leave a loaded gun in a place accessible to children under the age of 14.


Associated Press writer Matthew Barakat in Falls Church, Va., contributed to this report.


A previous version of this report misspelled the name Abigail Zwerner.

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