Virginia teacher shot by six-year-old sues school officials for $40m | US school shootings

The Virginia teacher who was shot by her six-year-old student has filed a $40m negligence lawsuit against school district officials.

Abigail Zwerner, 25, alleges that administrators ignored requests to search the pupil for a handgun and warnings that he was in a “violent mood”.

The lawsuit names as defendants the Newport News school board, the former superintendent George Parker III, the ex-Richneck elementary school principal Briana Foster Newton and the former assistant principal Ebony Parker.

The shooting happened on 6 January. Zwerner was sitting at a reading table when she was shot in the hand and chest.

She led her students to safety before being taken to hospital, where she stayed for two weeks and through four surgical procedures.

Prosecutors have said the boy, who has not been publicly identified, will not face criminal charges. They have not said if adults will be charged.

George Parker III, the superintendent, was fired after the shooting. Ebony Parker, the assistant principal, resigned.

An attorney for the boy’s parents has said they were “committed to responsible gun ownership and keeping firearms out of the reach of children” and had tried to do so with the firearm concerned, which belonged to the boy’s mother.

The family has also said the boy has a severe disability and has had mental health treatment.

In the lawsuit, attorneys for Zwerner say the defendants knew the boy “had a history of random violence” at school and at home, including an episode in which he “strangled and choked” his kindergarten teacher.

“All defendants knew that [the boy] attacked students and teachers alike, and his motivation to injure was directed toward anyone in his path, both in and out of school, and was not limited to teachers while at the school,” the lawsuit says.

An attorney for Zwerner, Diane Toscano, told the Wall Street Journal: “The Newport News school division had a duty to Abby. But they failed her miserably that day.”

Zwerner’s lawsuit seeks $40m in damages.

Newport News public schools did not immediately comment.

Zwerner recently told NBC her recovery was exhausting but added: “I try to have a positive outlook on what’s happened and where my future’s heading.”

Of the shooting, she said: “I just will never forget the look on his face that he gave me while he pointed the gun directly at me.”

Zwerner also said she remembered that as she lost consciousness after being wounded, she “thought I had died”.

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