Diane Toscano, an attorney for Abigail Zwerner, announced at a press conference in Newport News that the 25-year-old teacher at Richneck Elementary School plans to sue the school district over the shooting which left Zerner with serious injuries. Toscano said that concerned staff members warned administrators at the Virginia school three time that a 6-year-old boy had a gun and was threatening students and teachers. This was only hours before the boy shot Zwerner, but even then, the school did not immediately call the police, remove the boy from class, or lock down the school. In the days following the shooting, the school board voted to fire school district superintendent George Parker III but granted him $502,000 in severance — two years of his current base salary of $251,000.
“On that day, over the course of a few hours, three different times — three times — school administration was warned by concerned teachers and employees that the boy had a gun on him at the school and was threatening people. But the administration could not be bothered,” Toscano said. Zwerner first went to administrators at at 11:15 a.m. to warn them that the boy was threating to beat up other students. An hour later, another teacher told administrators that she had searched they boys bag but believed he had put a gun in his pocket when he went out to recess.
“The administrator downplayed the report from the teacher and the possibility of a gun, saying — and I quote — ‘Well, he has little pockets,’ ” Toscano said.
At 1 p.m., yet another teacher reported that a male student who was “crying and fearful” told her that the boy had showed him the gun during recess and threatened to shoot him if he told anyone. gain, no action was taken, she said.
According to the AP:
When another employee who had heard the boy might have a gun asked an administrator to search the boy, he was turned down, Toscano said.
“He was told to wait the situation out because the school day was almost over,” she said.
About an hour later, “Abby Zwerner was shot in front of those horrified kids, and the school and community are living the nightmare, all because the school administration failed to act,” Toscano said.
“Were they not so paralyzed by apathy, they could have prevented this tragedy,” she said.