School officials were told that the 6-year-old who shot his teacher in class had a weapon on him before the shooting, a Virginia school superintendent said.
At a virtual town hall meeting on Thursday evening, Newport News Public Schools Superintendent George Parker told parents that someone had reported that the child was possibly armed when he arrived at school the morning of Jan. 6. The first-grader's backpack was searched, but there was no weapon found inside, Parker said.
Parker also said that "at least one administrator was notified of a possible weapon in the timeline of events that occurred," Michelle Price, a spokesperson for the school district, told BuzzFeed News.
It's unclear who made the report and who searched the child's bag. The town hall was only made available to parents, WAVY TV 10 reported.
The boy is accused of intentionally shooting his teacher in class at Richneck Elementary School. The bullet went through the teacher's hand and into her chest, authorities said, leaving her with life-threatening injuries.
The teacher, Abigail Zwerner, was praised by officials for shepherding the rest of the students out of the classroom after being shot. Police said a school official physically restrained the child until officers arrived.
Zwerner, 25, is in stable condition at the hospital.
Steve Drew, the Newport News police chief, said the gun was legally purchased by the boy's mother but declined to say where or how the firearm was stored in their home.
The school district has said it will make changes to security measures at all schools, including installing metal detectors.
The shooting at Richneck Elementary has angered and unnerved parents, some of whom said they had demanded increased security measures after shootings at two high schools in the district in the last school year.
In December 2021, a 17-year-old was killed after being shot during an altercation on the grounds of Menchville High School. Another teen was sentenced to 10 years in prison in August 2022 for firing several shots in a hallway at Heritage High School during a fight, injuring two students.
"You've got a beautiful country, you've got beautiful people, but what's the problem? Guns!" one parent told WTKR News. "How does a -year-old have a gun? That's what I'm pissed off with. I'm only here because my husband's in the military, or otherwise I would not have chosen to come to this country."