(Trends Wide) — As police investigate the circumstances that led a 6-year-old boy to shoot and wound a teacher at Richneck Elementary School in Newport News, Virginia, on Friday, a student at the school described the harrowing moment when it was ordered closed. .
“We were doing math … an announcer came on and said, ‘lockdown, lockdown again,’” said fifth-grader Novah Jones, who was in a different classroom. “I was scared… it was like my first lockdown and I didn’t know what to do, so I hid under my desk like everyone else.”
Novah told Trends Wide in an interview with her and her mother that she first believed there was a gunman at the school.
“I was thinking that… a man was going to shoot us,” Novah said.
The teacher wounded in Friday’s shooting, whose injury was initially described as life-threatening, was listed in stable condition Saturday, according to the Newport News Police Department.
Authorities and the Newport News Public School District did not name the teacher, but her alma mater, James Madison University, identified her as Abby Zwerner.
The 6-year-old boy was taken into police custody, Police Chief Steve Drew said at a news conference, adding that “it was not an accidental shooting.”
There was an altercation between the teacher and the student, who had the firearm, Drew said. A single round was fired and no other students were involved, he added.
After the shooting, all the students at the school were evacuated from their classrooms with their teachers and taken to the gym, where they were with counselors and officers, Drew told Trends Wide affiliate WTKR.
The shooting came just six days into the new year, with police storming a campus that still had a “Happy New Year” sign outside.
As officers rushed to the school, Novah texted her mother, telling her there was a lockdown. “I sent him a text ‘Mom help’.”
After receiving the text, “I couldn’t breathe, I was in shock,” said her mother, Kasheba Jones.
Although she was able to return home safely, Novah said she had trouble sleeping that night, worried that “I still had the gun and was going to come to my house.”
“I had like flashbacks,” Novah said.
Novah is one of many children dealing with the trauma of a school shooting. School shootings in the United States, while still rare compared to other incidents of gun violence, have become far more common than in any other country. In 2022, there were at least 60 shootings at K-12 schools, according to a Trends Wide analysis.
How did someone so young know how to aim and fire a gun? Community grapples with suspect’s age
While the investigation continues, the elementary school will remain closed Monday and Tuesday to give the community “time to heal,” Principal Briana Foster Newton said in a statement.
Meanwhile, community members grapple with the suspect’s age.
Novah said she has a hard time understanding how someone so young could have a gun or pull a trigger.
His mother asked the same questions.
“Where did you get a gun from in the first place and how did you know how to aim and fire it?” Jones said.
Investigators are looking into how the boy obtained the firearm, Drew said.
“It is almost impossible to understand the fact that a 6-year-old first grader brought a loaded gun to school and shot a teacher; however, this is exactly what our community is dealing with today,” Newport News Mayor Phillip D. Jones said in a statement. announcement posted on Twitter.
The authorities “are working diligently to get an answer to the question we all ask ourselves: how did this happen? We are also working to ensure that the child receives the supports and services that she needs as we continue to process what happened,” Jones said.
“We have been in contact with our attorney from the Commonwealth and a few other entities to help us better serve this young man,” Drew said Friday.