Charges Filed Against 6-Year-Old Mother Who Shot a Teacher

A grand jury in Newport News, Va., has charged the mother of a 6-year-old who shot and injured a first grade teacher at an elementary school in January, authorities said Monday.

The mother, Deja Taylor, faces one count of felony abandonment and a misdemeanor charge of child endangerment involving a loaded weapon, city prosecutors said in a statement. His son is alleged to have shot his teacher with a gun in a classroom at Richneck Elementary School, seriously injuring him.

The charges follow an investigation by the Newport News Police Department and the commonwealth attorney's office. James Ellenson, an attorney representing the child's family, said Ms. Taylor will turn himself in to authorities this week, but will not comment further on the allegations.

The January 6 shooting in Newport News, a town about 70 miles southeast of Richmond, Va., shocked officials and the public alike, drawing significant attention because of the child's age, school responsiveness, and the boy's access to guns.

The teacher, Abigail Zwerner, was in the middle of her first grade routine when, police said, the boy drew a gun, pointed it at her, and fired. One bullet passed through his hand and hit his chest.

Days after the shooting, a spokeswoman for the Newport News public school district, Michelle Price, confirmed that a member of staff had searched the child's backpack prior to the shooting “after it was reported that the student may have been in possession of a weapon.” No weapons found. Later that month, the school board voted to terminate the contract of district superintendent, George Parker III.

The child has not been charged, and the prosecutor, Howard E. Gwynn, said last month that he most likely would not understand the legal system. “The prospect that a 6 year old may be tried is problematic,” said Mr. Gwynn.

But in a statement on Monday, Mr Gwynn said he asked the court to set up a special grand jury to investigate possible safety issues at the school, and that more charges may be forthcoming.

This is an evolving story. Check back for updates.