Lawyer: 6-year-old who shot teacher ‘totally disabled’

The family of a 6-year-old boy who shot and wounded his teacher in Virginia said Thursday that the child suffered from “a debilitating illness” and that one of his parents was familiar with it. then join him in class but not the week the shooting happened.

On Thursday, the hospital that treated the teacher, who passed away at the beginning of this week, announced that he is still recovering. outpatient care.

The statement from the boy’s family was released through the office of attorney James S. Ellenson. It was the first public statement from the boy’s family since the January 6 incident in downtown Newport News.

“Our family has always been committed to gun ownership and keeping guns out of children’s reach,” said the family member, who has not been identified. “The gun found by our son was secured.”

The statement did not elaborate on where the 9mm handgun was kept or what the “safe” means.

Ellenson told The Associated Press on Thursday evening that it was his understanding that the gun was in the mother’s closet on the top shelf more than six feet high. . The weapon also had a trigger lock that required a key, like a bicycle lock.

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As for how the child got the gun, Ellenson said: “We don’t know.”

Regarding the disability, the family said the child “was under a care plan at school that included his mother or father studying with him and accompanying him to class during the day all.”

The family said the week of the shooting “was the first week we weren’t in class with him. We will mourn our loss today for the rest of our lives.”

It was not clear what the meaning of the family accompanying him to class every day and whether it included sitting with him during the lessons.

The statement did not describe the child’s disability. And it did not explain what his “care plan” is and whether it is similar to other plans that serve children with special needs.

Ellenson said the plan is what is known as an “individualized education program” or IEP, which is given to students with special needs under state law. When asked if it was mental or behavioral disability, Ellenson said “all of the above.”

Ellenson said the boy’s parents traveled with him to class for several weeks. He said he believes a parent will sit with him during class “at times.”

“Then I guess it was a joint decision between the school and the parents that this is no longer needed,” said Ellenson.

Federal law requires public schools to make accommodations for students with special needs and modify the curriculum, if necessary, to serve the educational needs and goals of a student, the article said. said Michael J. Kennedy, a professor of special education at the University of Virginia.

About 12 percent of students in American public schools have what is called an “individualized education program,” Kennedy said. They need information from parents, teachers and other workers, such as the school psychologist.

A place for students with special needs can give them more time to complete an assignment or test, Kennedy said. A place for students with behavioral disabilities can be defined as sitting close to the teacher.

It is rare, however, for students with special needs to be accompanied by an adult, such as a teaching assistant who works with the children, Kennedy said. But it happens in a small group of students, especially in students with many needs.

Kennedy, a former special education teacher, said she had never heard of parents taking a similar role in the classroom.

“This is the responsibility of the school,” he said. “If the child has a disability in that difficult situation that requires permanent support, the group (individual education program) must agree to it.” Then prepare the school.”

A candle is raised in the air as Newport News residents hold a candlelight vigil to honor Richneck Elementary School first grade teacher Abby Zwerner at the School Administration Building in Newport News, Va.

John C. Clark/AP

The shooting drew the world’s attention to Newport News, a shipyard town that sits along the James River near the Chesapeake Bay. There are many people in the country who are struggling to understand how something like this could happen, while creating an ongoing debate about how to discipline students.

According to the police, the mother of the 6-year-old legally bought the gun, but it is not certain how her son got it. Virginia law prohibits possession of a firearm by a child under the age of 14, a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in prison. and a fine of $2,500.

The shooting happened while Abigail Zwerner was teaching her first grade at Richneck Elementary. Authorities say there was no warning and no struggle before the boy took the gun at Zwerner. The bullet pierced his arm and hit his chest, police said. The 25-year-old teacher rushed out of the classroom before rushing to the hospital.

The superintendent of Newport News schools revealed last week that Richneck authorities knew the student might have a weapon before the shooting. But a search did not turn up the gun, even though the staff looked in his bag.

In a statement on Thursday from the boy’s family, “we pray for his recovery after an unspeakable accident while he selflessly served our son and the children at school”.

“He worked diligently and compassionately to support our family as we sought the best environment for education and training for our son,” the family said. “We thank him for his courage, grace and sacrifice. We grieve with all the other teachers, families and administrators because of this terrible tragedy that has affected them, our communities, and the country.

The family said the boy has been in hospital care since the shooting and is receiving “the treatment he needs.”

“At the same time, we love our son and ask that you include him and our family in your prayers.”

Newport News Police Chief Steve Drew described the shooting as “intended.” The judge will decide what happens next for the child.

Ellenson, the lawyer for the boy’s family, said that they are fully cooperating with the police in their investigation.

No charges have been brought against the mother, but the investigation is ongoing, said Drew on Wednesday during a discussion on Facebook with the community.

The man was asked at least twice whether the father’s parents would be tried or the mother would be prosecuted. Drew responded by saying he wanted to make sure the police could do a thorough investigation.

“I’m not going to rush them,” Drew said. His department has a good relationship with local prosecutors, he said, and he has “a lot of faith” that “they will make the right decision based on the evidence in front of them.” .”

Investigators have almost finished interviewing the children in the classroom, Drew said, and police are working with a psychologist. to talk to them about what they saw.

“This is an unprecedented incident in our town, where a 6-year-old boy got a gun, brought it to school, pointed it, shot it. and shot his teacher in front of other students,” said the principal. “I have a young teacher who was injured by a gunshot while teaching his classroom. By the grace of God, he is still with us today.”

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