Reactions From Families Following the Indictment of the 6-year-old Boy’s Mother

According to Newport News Commonwealth’s Attorney Howard Gwynn, the mother of the 6-year-old boy who shot his first-grade teacher, Abby Zwerner, on Monday at Richneck Elementary School has been indicted by a grand jury.

According to Gwynn, Newport News resident Deja Taylor, 25, has been charged with felony child negligence and misdemeanor recklessly leaving a handgun as to endanger a child. A “thorough investigation by Newport News Police Department and this Office.”  as stated by Gwynn, led to the filing of charges.

According to Gwynn, the inquiry led to the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office concluding that there was sufficient evidence to charge Taylor with both charges. “Every criminal case is unique in its facts, and these facts support these charges, but our investigation into the shooting continues,” said Gwynn.

To “continue the investigation into any security flaws that may have led to this shooting,” prosecutors in Newport News have also requested the impaneling of a “special grand jury” by a Circuit Court judge. According to the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office, this process could take months and involve investigating Richneck administrators, the school system, and potentially anyone else.

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“The safety and security of Newport News students is of utmost importance,” said Gwynn. “The Special Grand Jury will investigate to determine whether additional charges against additional persons are justified by the facts and the law. If the Special Grand Jury determines that additional persons are criminally responsible under the law, it can return additional indictments.”

While these procedures are ongoing, the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office will have no further comment. Diane Toscano, representing Zwerner, issued the following statement to News 3 in response to the mother’s 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. We will not allow school leaders to escape accountability for their role in this tragedy.”

James Ellenson, the attorney representing Taylor and the 6-year-old’s family, released a statement to News 3, saying, “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.”

Families React After Mom of 6-year-old Boy

Steve Carrington, a former Richneck parent, expressed his delight with the indictment to News 3’s Kelsey Jones. “If it had been anyone else, they would have been charged,” he said. “It should have happened a while ago, but I’m glad it happened.”

David Wilson, another dad from Richneck, thinks the accusations are too severe. “I’m not enthused about a mother being charged as I am disappointed in our lack of response to the preventing of the violence,” Wilson said.

“We learned about the failures of the mother, we learned about the failure of our administration, we learned about a lot of things. A lot of things are coming out so I’m here to see what gets done.”

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