Virginia mom of 6-year-old who shot teacher surrenders to police


(NEWPORT NEWS, Va.) — The mother of a 6-year-old boy who allegedly shot a teacher at his Newport News, Virginia, elementary school turned herself in to police Thursday.

A grand jury returned two indictments charging Deja Taylor with felony child neglect and misdemeanor recklessly leaving a loaded firearm as to endanger a child, prosecutors said Monday.

Taylor’s 6-year-old son allegedly took a handgun from his home on Jan. 6, put it in his backpack and brought it to Richneck Elementary School where he allegedly shot and wounded 25-year-old teacher Abigail Zwerner in a first grade classroom. Zwerner suffered critical injuries but is expected to make a full recovery.

Taylor surrendered to Newport News police Thursday morning and was later released on $5,000 bond.

Zwerner has sued the school’s former superintendent, principal and assistant principal for $40 million, alleging negligence.

Zwerner’s lawyer, Diane Toscano, said in a statement about the new charges, “There were failures in accountability at multiple levels that led to Abby being shot and almost killed. Today’s announcement addresses but one of those failures. It has been three months of investigation and still so many unanswered questions remain.”

“Our lawsuit makes clear that we believe the school division violated state law, and we are pursuing this in civil court,” Toscano continued. “We will not allow school leaders to escape accountability for their role in this tragedy.”

“Every criminal case is unique in its facts, and these facts support these charges, but our investigation into the shooting continues,” Newport News Commonwealth’s Attorney Howard Gwynn said in a press release.

Gwynn requested a special grand jury to continue an investigation into the incident to see if there were any security issues that may have contributed to the shooting, according to prosecutors.

“If the special grand jury determines that additional persons are criminally responsible under the law, it can return additional indictments,” Gwynn said.

In a statement to ABC News, James Ellenson, the attorney representing Taylor and the 6-year-old’s family, said, “I wish to thank the NN Commonwealth Attorney’s office for extending me the courtesy of informing us of the indictments that were returned by the grand jury today. My client will be turning herself in later this week. More details will follow.”

Police said the 9 mm Taurus pistol was legally purchased by the boy’s mother.

In the wake of the shooting, the 6-year-old’s family said their son “suffers from an acute disability and was under a care plan at the school that included his mother or father attending school with him and accompanying him to class every day.”

“The week of the shooting was the first week when we were not in class with him,” the family said.

ABC News’ Beatrice Peterson and Teddy Grant contributed to this report.

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