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6-year-old child who shot teacher has "acute disability," and the gun he used was "secured," family says

6-year-old's family breaks silence after Virginia shooting
6-year-old's family breaks silence after shooting of Virginia teacher 00:35

The family of the 6-year-old boy who shot and wounded his teacher earlier this month said that their son suffers from an "acute disability," and that the gun he used to shoot the educator was "secured." 

In the first public comments made since the January incident, which shocked the the city of Newport News, Virginia, the family expressed sympathy for the teacher in a statement released by their attorney. 

"Our heart goes out to our son's teacher and we pray for her healing in the aftermath of such an unimaginable tragedy as she selflessly served our son and the children in the school," read the statement. "She has worked diligently and compassionately to support our family as we sought the best education and learning environment for our son." 

The first-grade teacher at Richneck Elementary School had previously been identified as 25-year-old Abigail Zwerner. She was released from Riverside Regional Medical Center earlier this week, according to a statement Thursday afternoon from hospital officials. 

"She continues her recovery as an outpatient with the support of family, friends, and health professionals," the statement read.

Virginia Shooting
A teacher was injured in a shooting Jan. 6, 2023, at Richneck Elementary School in Newport News, Virginia. Virginian Pilot / Contributor / Getty Imahes

The family said that they had always been committed to "responsible gun ownership and keeping firearms out of the reach of children."

"The firearm our son accessed was secured," the statement continued.

It is unclear how the child accessed the 9mm handgun he used to shoot his teacher in the chest during class that day. Police described the shooting as "intentional," and say the weapon used had been legally purchased by the child's mother. The family says they have been cooperating with local and federal law enforcement to understand how the incident occurred.

The statement also said that the child was under a "care plan" at the school, which included the attendance of one of the parents in class with him every day, and that the week of the shooting had been the first they had not been in class with their son. 

"We will regret our absence on this day for the rest of our lives," the statement said.

The family did not specify the details of the "acute disability."

The statement says that since the shooting, the child has been under hospital care, and receiving treatment. The family went on to thank their son's medical team, and those who have supported them during this "difficult time."

"We continue to pray for his teacher's full recovery, and for her loved ones who are undoubtedly upset and concerned. At the same time, we love our son and are asking that you please include him and our family in your prayers."

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