NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — The mother of a 6-year-old boy who shot and wounded her teacher in Virginia has been formally arrested on charges of child neglect and failing to secure her gun, police announced Thursday.
The Newport News Police Department released a stock photo of the woman, 25, and a brief statement saying she turned herself in at the local jail. She was released after posting $5,000 bail and has a status hearing scheduled for Friday in Newport News Circuit Court, said James Ellenson, her attorney.
“She is nervous and scared because she has never been charged before, but she is holding up well,” Ellenson wrote in an email Thursday.
Authorities had announced Monday that Deja Taylor was being charged with felony child neglect and misdemeanor endangerment of a child by reckless storage of a firearm.
His arrest comes more than three months after police said his son shot and wounded first-grade teacher Abby Zwerner as she sat at a reading table in her classroom. Police said the boy used his mother’s gun, which was purchased legally.
Zwerner filed a $40 million lawsuit against the school system last week, accusing school officials of gross negligence and ignoring multiple warnings from teachers and others that the boy had brought a gun to school that day.
The city attorney’s office said Tuesday it is investigating whether the «acts or omissions» of school employees could lead to criminal charges.
The January shooting at Richneck Elementary School has rocked Newport News, a boatbuilding city of about 185,000 people near the Chesapeake Bay.
Police Chief Steve Drew has repeatedly characterized the shooting as «intentional.» He said there was no warning or scuffle before the girl pointed the gun at Zwerner and fired a round, hitting her in the hand and chest.
Zwerner, 25, led her students out of the classroom before she was rushed to the hospital, where she remained for nearly two weeks.
The gross negligence charge brought against the child’s mother is punishable by up to five years in prison. The misdemeanor charge of recklessly storing a firearm is punishable by up to one year in jail.
Ellenson has previously said that he has no criminal record. He has also said that his gun was secured on a top shelf in his closet and had a trigger lock.
The family has said the boy is «acutely disabled» and was under a care plan that included his mother or father accompanying him to class every day. The week of the shooting was the first week a parent was not in class with him, the family said.