In Newport News, Virginia, the mother of a 6-year-old student who allegedly shot his teacher in January is now facing federal gun charges. Deja Taylor, identified as the mother of the young boy, has been charged with unlawful possession of a firearm while being an unlawful user of a controlled substance. Additionally, she is accused of making a false statement during the firearm purchase process by denying her use of marijuana.
According to court documents, Taylor was indicted in April by a grand jury on charges of felony child neglect and misdemeanor endangerment of a child by recklessly leaving a loaded firearm accessible. The court filing reveals that on or around July 19, 2022, Taylor knowingly possessed a Taurus model PT111, G2A 9mm semiautomatic handgun while being aware of her status as an unlawful user of a controlled substance.
The same court filing also states that Taylor provided a false written statement to Winfree Firearms, claiming that she was not an unlawful user of marijuana, despite knowing that she was.
The incident occurred at Richneck Elementary School, where Abby Zwerner, the teacher, was shot in the hand and chest while sitting at a reading table in her classroom. Zwerner, 25 years old at the time, underwent four surgeries and spent nearly two weeks in the hospital.
The incident shocked the local community and the nation at large, raising concerns about how such a young child could gain access to a firearm and harm his teacher.
In response to the incident, Zwerner’s attorneys filed a lawsuit seeking $40 million in damages against the school district, alleging gross negligence and reckless breach of duty on the part of the school board and three former administrators. The lawsuit claims that the defendants failed to protect Zwerner, despite receiving multiple warnings about the student involved.
Attorneys representing the school system and the former administrators have countered the lawsuit by requesting its dismissal. They argue that Zwerner’s injuries should be covered under the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act since she was shot while performing her job duties. The Act provides benefits to employees injured on the job but prevents them from suing their employers for injuries sustained during work.
Responding to this argument, Zwerner’s legal team released a statement expressing their disagreement. They stated that no one expects a first-grade teacher to face the risk of being shot by a 6-year-old as part of their job. They emphasized that the school board’s stance contradicts the expectations of Newport News citizens and is not supported by the law. They believe that teachers throughout the district will be deeply concerned to learn how their employer views such incidents as part of their job description.