JMU identifies Newport News teacher police say was shot by a 6-year-old

Police say no students were injured.
Published: Jan. 6, 2023 at 2:53 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 9, 2023 at 7:44 AM EST
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UPDATE: James Madison University is identifying the first-grade teacher who was shot inside a Newport News classroom.

In a Facebook post, the university says JMU alumna 25-year-old Abby Zwerner was shot, and that it is offering prayers and wishes for her recovery.

Zwerner is known as a hardworking educator who is devoted to her students and enthusiastic about the profession that runs in her family.

John Eley, a former member of the Newport News school board says Zwerner is from a family of educators and was praised by fellow teachers and others as an “all-around good teacher.”

Abby was taken to the hospital with critical injuries but has improved. She is now listed in stable condition.

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WWBT) - A teacher was severely injured after a student shot her at an elementary school in Newport News on Friday afternoon.

On Jan. 6, around 2 p.m. Newport News Police responded to a shooting at Richneck Elementary School for the report of a person shot. In a press conference, Newport News Police Chief Steve Drew said a 6-year-old student shot a woman who teaches at the school while the two were isolated in a classroom after an altercation.

“All of the students are safe,” Newport News Public Schools said about the shooting. “The perpetrator is in police custody.”

The teacher’s injuries are life-threatening, but at the last update, her condition is “improving.”

Newport News police said Friday just before 3 p.m. that “there is no longer an active shooter.”

Chief Drew says this shooting was not accidental but did not provide details about how the student got the gun. He also said in the conference no one else was involved in the incident, and other students did “an amazing job” handling the situation.

Parents like Linsay Reeder raced over to the school Friday afternoon, fearing the worse may have happened to their student.

“Very nervous because initially, it was messages of there was a shooting at the school is your daughter okay and immediately it was like, oh my goodness, that shock,” Reeder said.

Reeder and her parents waited in a long line of other parents picking up their students from the school’s gymnasium.

She said this is a wake-up call that school shootings can happen anywhere.

“So we’ve been in the area for about five months now, so this is my daughter’s first year at the school, so it’s a little scary to come into the area and for something like this to happen,” Reeder said.

The school announced it will not be holding classes Monday.

Anyone with information about the shooting is asked to call the Newport News Police Department at 757-247-2500.