Prosecutors in the case involving the 6-year-old Richneck Elementary student who shot his teacher claimed they wouldn’t press charges against the child. However, they are working to see if they could legally hold an adult associated with the incident responsible for the crime.
Commonwealth’s Attorney for the city of Newport News, Virginia, Howard Gwynn, told NBC News that they find it “problematic” to put a 6-year-old on the stand, knowing he wouldn’t understand any legal terms — rendering him ineffective for the case.
In some states, the minimum age to be criminally charged is 14. However, Virginia is a state with no minimum age for prosecution. Any person under 18 can technically be prosecuted, but the law has no specific minimum age. Their cases are typically handled by the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District (JDR) courts.
“Our objective is not just to do something as quickly as possible,” Gwynn said. “Once we analyze all the facts, we will charge any person or persons that we believe we can prove beyond a reasonable doubt committed a crime.”
Prosecutors may be looking to see if the child’s parents could be charged since it was his mother’s gun — legally purchased — he used to shoot his 25-year-old elementary school teacher, Abigail Zwerner. The big question is how he had easy access to it when his family maintained that the gun was secured.
The shooting occurred on Jan. 6 at Richneck Elementary School, News Onyx previously reported. The unnamed minor brought a 9mm handgun to school and shot Zwerner, who was seated at the reading table. Despite being shot in hand and chest, she escorted her students out with the help of another teacher, who subdued the child.
Zwerner’s lawyer, Diane Toscano of Toscao Law Group, claimed the shooting could’ve been prevented had the school administration listened to the warnings of school employees and teachers.
School employees and teachers told the administration about the child’s concerning behavior a few times that day. Additionally, another student told a teacher about the child having a gun on campus and threatened to shoot him if he told anyone. That same teacher told administrators who did nothing.
Zwerner was hospitalized for two weeks for her life-threatening injuries before being discharged.
Authorities are still investigating the matter before reaching a decision.