By: April Carson
A local prosecutor in Virginia announced on Monday that charges will be filed against the mother of a 6-year-old boy who shot and seriously injured his teacher with a gun in January.
According to Newport News Commonwealth's Attorney Howard Gwynn, Deja Taylor was indicted by a grand jury on charges of felony child neglect and a misdemeanor count of recklessly leaving a loaded firearm to endanger a child. It was previously reported that Gwynn had stated he wouldn't pursue charges against the student.
On Monday, Gwynn made a statement saying that although the investigation into the shooting is ongoing, the charges were supported by the unique facts of the case.
His office has requested Newport News Circuit Court to convene a special grand jury for further investigation into possible security breaches that could have caused the shooting. Gwynn clarified that if the Special Grand Jury finds more people accountable for criminal charges according to the law, it can release additional indictments.
A lawyer named James Ellenson stated that he was informed about the indictments that a grand jury announced on Monday regarding Taylor's case. He added that he and his client were “assessing the situation and exploring all legal options.”
Ellenson stated that his/her client will surrender later this week and additional information will be provided in due course.
The maximum sentence for felony child neglect, which is defined by state laws as having a "reckless disregard for human life," is five years in prison. On the other hand, the misdemeanor charge of recklessly leaving a loaded firearm can lead to a maximum sentence of one year in prison.
The lawyer representing Abigail Zwerner, the injured teacher, stated on Monday that although they appreciate the charges filed against the student's mother, they think that other individuals should also be held accountable. They say that it was not just the mother's negligence of leaving a loaded firearm in her son's reach, but other factors such as accessibility and availability of firearms that allowed this incident to take place.
Lawyer Diane Toscano stated that multiple levels of accountability failures resulted in Abby being shot and almost killed. However, today's announcement only addresses one of those failures. According to Toscano, their lawsuit claims that the school division broke state law and they will pursue this case in civil court. She emphasized that they won't let school leaders avoid accountability for their involvement in this tragedy.
Zwerner filed a lawsuit against Richneck Elementary School administrators for $40 million, claiming that they ignored warnings from staff members and students who thought that the boy had a gun and was a danger on January 6th, the day of the shooting.
Officials report that Zwerner was shot by a first-grade student using a 9 mm handgun while she was sitting at a reading table in their classroom.
Zwerner was praised by the Newport News police for leading her group of approximately 20 students to safety despite sustaining serious injuries to her left hand and chest. Law enforcement confirmed that the shooting was deliberate.
In a previous statement, the family of the boy claimed that the weapon was secured inside their home. They also stated their commitment to responsible gun ownership while ensuring that firearms are not accessible to children.
The family stated that the boy has a severe disability and was receiving necessary treatment while being temporarily detained at a medical facility as ordered by the court.
Although the mother of the suspect legally bought the gun he used, the police have not disclosed how he got access to it or whether it was stored safely, despite the family's assertion.
According to Allison Anderman, the senior counsel and director of local policy at the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, there is no specific law in Virginia regarding the proper way to secure firearms in a household, which sets it apart from other states.
She mentioned that there is a law that considers possession of firearms to be a misdemeanor for those who are 14 years old or younger. This law aims to safeguard children.
Anderman stated that Taylor was accused of violating the Virginia code, which specifies that a loaded firearm cannot be left unsecured in a manner that poses a danger to a child under 14 years old. However, if the firearm was reasonably stored and a minor under 14 still managed to gain access, the owner may not be held liable unless their behavior was reckless.
After the incident, an assistant principal who ignored warnings resigned, and the school board removed the superintendent, George Parker III, without cause. Additionally, the district added metal detectors and hired a full-time security guard at Richneck.
In a previous statement, the school board declared that the safety and well-being of their students and staff are their topmost priority. They also assured us that they will do everything necessary to maintain a safe environment for teaching and learning in all their schools.
The school district declined to give any comments regarding the allegations against the student's mother on Monday. Zwerner's legal action claims that the school district was aware of the child's violent background and had a policy requiring one of his parents to accompany him during school hours. However, during the shooting incident, no parents were present, and no monitors were assigned to him.
This month, Ellenson commented that the allegations regarding the 6-year-old in the complaint should be viewed skeptically. He said, “It’s essential that we don’t rush to judgment in this case and take time to evaluate the facts presented.
However, our schools must remain a safe environment for teaching and learning for all students. We are deeply saddened by the events at the Elementary School and will continue to work with our partners in law enforcement to ensure the safety of our students.”
Was Jesus a Student Of Thoth or Were They The Same Person By Billy Carson
April Carson is the daughter of Billy Carson. She received her bachelor's degree in Social Sciences from Jacksonville University, where she was also on the Women's Basketball team. She now has a successful clothing company that specializes in organic baby clothes and other items. Take a look at their most popular fall fashions on bossbabymav.com
To read more of April's blogs, check out her website! She publishes new blogs on a daily basis, including the most helpful mommy advice and baby care tips! Follow on IG @bossbabymav
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