Attorney: Former Richneck principal not aware that 6-year-old had a gun

Published: Feb. 2, 2023 at 6:15 AM EST|Updated: Feb. 2, 2023 at 6:24 PM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Briana Foster-Newton, the now-former principal for Richneck Elementary School, was not informed a 6-year-old student had a gun prior to shooting a teacher, according to a statement from attorney Pamela Branch.

Branch said Thursday that rumors that Foster-Newton was aware of the threat are “far from the truth.”

Branch says it was other administrators with this critical information who failed to notify Newton of a weapon on school grounds the day of the shooting.

Branch also said that Foster-Newton has received threats and has been the subject of misinformed social media posts since the shooting in Newport News last month.

“It’s very easy to demonize people you don’t know, when in the midst of an obviously upsetting and traumatic situation for everyone such as what happened on January 6th,” Branch said.

Watch Branch’s statement, which was issued in Richmond on Thursday afternoon:

Pamela Branch issues a statement on behalf of the former Richneck Elementary School principal

Meanwhile, a parent emailed the former Superintendent George Parker, claiming she reported a threat to Newton two days before police say the 6-year-old shot first-grade teacher Abby Zwerner.

The parent wrote that Newton assured her the threat was handled, yet the school didn’t notify families of the threat or advise families to secure firearms for preventative measures.

Branch confirmed that while Foster-Newton is no longer the principal of Richneck, she will be reassigned to another position with Newport News Public Schools.

Last month, the Newport News School Board announced a shift in leadership after reviewing the preliminary results of the internal investigation.

Shortly thereafter, it was announced Karen Lynch - who then served as the extended learning supervisor would take on some of the responsibilities as principal.

Last week, Assistant Principal Dr. Ebony Parker resigned from her position, and the school board voted to have the division’s superintendent removed.