Staff at the school where a six-year-old shot his teacher learned the child may have a weapon in his possession before the shooting but did not find it despite searching his bag, an official has said.
Abigail Zwerner, 25, was shot in the chest by the pupil at Richneck Elementary in Virginia on 6 January and though her injuries were initially feared to be life-threatening, she is now considered to be in a stable condition.
Authorities say there was no warning or struggle before the shooting, which took place while Ms Zwerner was teaching her class.
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But local school system superintendent George Parker told parents at an online meeting that a school official had been informed about the 9mm handgun before the shooting in Newport News.
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“At least one administrator was notified of a possible weapon in the timeline that we’re reviewing and was aware that that student had, there was a potential that there was a weapon on campus,” the superintendent told parents, according to a clip of the meeting which was broadcast by local TV station WAVY-TV.
He said the boy’s backpack had been searched before the shooting, but that the gun was not found.
“The book bag for the student was searched after it was reported that he potentially had a weapon,” the station quoted Parker as saying.
There are no further details about how the school staff learned about the weapon. Local police had previously said the boy bought the gun into school in his backpack.
Police chief Steve Drew said the child, who has not been named, intentionally shot Ms Zwerner with his mother’s gun, which she owned legally.
The fate of the child, who is being held in a medical facility under an emergency custody order, will be determined by a judge.
Virginia law does not allow six-year-olds to be tried as adults. In addition, the boy is too young to be committed to the custody of the Department of Juvenile Justice if found guilty.
The local school district said on Thursday that they would be installing metal detectors in all schools, starting with Richneck Elementary.