While the police are investigating the circumstances that led to a A 6-year-old boy is believed to be the shooter and injury to a teacher at Richneck Elementary School in Newport News, Virginia, Friday, a student at the school described the harrowing moment the lockdown was imposed.
“We were doing math … a speaker came on, she said, ‘lock, I repeat lock,'” said fifth-grader Nova Jones, who was in another classroom. “I was scared … it was like my first lockdown and I didn’t know what to do, so I just hid under my desk like everyone else.”
Novah told CNN in an interview with her and her mother that she initially believed there was a man with a gun at the school.
“I thought…someone was going to shoot us,” Nova said.
The teacher injured in Friday’s shooting, whose injuries were initially described as life-threatening, was listed in stable condition as of Saturday, According to to the Newport News Police Department.
Authorities and the Newport News Public Schools district did not name the teacher, but her alma mater, James Madison University, identified she as Abby Zwerner.
The 6-year-old boy is in police custody, Police Chief Steve Drew said at a news conference, adding that “this was not a random 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 students at the school were evacuated from their classrooms along with their teachers and taken to the gym where they were with counselors and staff, Drew said CNN affiliate WTKR.
The shooting came just six days after the new year, when police raided a campus that still had a “Happy New Year” sign outside.
As officials rushed to the school, Nova texted her mother, telling her there was a lockdown. “I texted her ‘Mom help.'”
After getting the message, “I couldn’t breathe, I was in shock,” said her mother, Kasheba Jones.
Although she was able to get home safely, Nova said she had trouble sleeping that night, worried that “he still had the gun and was going to come to my house.”
“I had like flashbacks,” Nova said.
Nova is one of many children struggling with the trauma of a school shooting. American school shootings, while still rare compared to other instances of gun violence, have happened much more common than they are in any other country. In 2022, there were at least 60 K-12 school shootings, according to a CNN analysis.
While the investigation continues, the elementary school will remain closed Monday and Tuesday to give the community “time to heal,” Principal Brianna Foster Newton said in statement.
Meanwhile, community members struggle with the suspect’s age.
Nova said she struggles to understand how someone so young could have a gun or pull a trigger.
Her mother repeated these questions.
“First, where did he get a gun and how did he figure out how to point it and fire?” Jones said.
Investigators will look into how the child obtained the firearm, Drew said.
“It is almost impossible to imagine 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 struggling with today,” Newport News Mayor Philip D. Jones said in statement posted on Twitter.
Authorities are “working hard to get an answer to the question we’re all asking — how did this happen?” We are also working to ensure the child receives the support and services they need as we continue to process what happened,” Jones said.
“We’ve reached out to our attorney and some other organizations to best help us get services for this young man,” Drew said Friday.
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