A 6-year-old boy and first-grader allegedly shot and severely injured a teacher at a school in Newport News, Virginia on Friday afternoon.
According to Newport News Police Department spokesperson Sarah Ketchum, officers arrived at Richneck Elementary School sometime before 2:45 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. Law enforcement later said the shooting occurred at around 2:00 p.m.
“No students were injured in this incident,” the original NNPD press release notes. “An adult was taken to a local hospital.”
The department added that officers were reuniting parents with their children and said there was not an “active shooter” situation.
In a later update, police identified the victim as a teacher. The teacher’s injuries, the NNPD said, “are believed to be life-threatening.”
“The individual is a 6-year-old student,” Newport News Police Chief Steve Drew said during a Friday evening press conference reported by CNN. “He is right now in police custody. We have been in contact with our commonwealth attorney and some other entities to help us best get services to this young man.”
Drew said the victim was a woman in her 30s whose condition has improved “some” since she was first taken to a nearby hospital.
According to The New York Times, the shooting occurred “during an altercation in a classroom.” Authorities, however, are keeping mum as to the contours of that altercation – except to say it escalated.
“This was not an accidental shooting,” the police chief added during the press conference – alleging the woman was shot by a single bullet from an unspecified type of handgun.
No other students were involved, law enforcement said. The investigation into the shocking incident is ongoing.
“We’ll get the investigation done, there’s questions we’ll want to ask and find out about,” Drew told reporters on Friday. “I want to know where that firearm came from, what was the situation.”
According to the Times, the school descended into chaos after the lone shot was fired. Many students were crying in the aftermath of the attack, 9-year-old fourth grader Carlos Glover told The Virginian-Pilot.
“My heart stopped,” Joselin Glover, Carlos’ mother, told the local paper. “I was freaking out, very nervous. Just wondering if that one person was my son.”
Danyelle Rose, whose fifth-grade daughter attends the school, told the Pilot she feared the incident would leave students mentally traumatized.
“They’re not physically hurt, but my daughter called me crying,” the angry parent said. “Because they’re supposed to be safe in school.”
The school will be closed on this coming Monday, Jan. 9, Newport News Public Schools Superintendent Dr. George Parker III said during the press conference – during which he repeatedly assailed youth access to guns.
“Today our students got a lesson in gun violence, and what guns can do to disrupt, not only an educational environment, but also a family, a community,” he said. “We need to keep guns out of the hands of our young people.”
“I’m in shock, and I’m disheartened,” Parker went on. “We need to educate our children and we need to keep them safe. We need the community’s support, continued support, to make sure that guns are not available to youth and I’m sounding like a broken record today, because I continue to reiterate that: that we need to keep the guns out of the hands of our young people.”
While school shootings are commonplace in the United States, those involving six-year-olds – as the perpetrators – are exceedingly rare.
According to the Associated Press, an expert analyzed U.S. school shooting data from 1970 to the present housed by the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. That data, Northeastern University criminologist James Alan Fox said, did not contain any incidents in which a 6-year-old was the perpetrator – though he personally recalled an incident in 2000 when a 6-year-old boy shot and killed a 6-year-old girl inside Buell Elementary near Flint, Michigan.
Under Virginia law, a 6-year-old cannot be prosecuted as an adult.
[Image via Newport News Police Department]
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]