The chief prosecutor in Newport News, Virginia, says there is no legal basis to charge a 6-year-old boy who shot his teacher in January.
The adults involved in the incident can still be charged, prosecutor Howard Gwynn said Wednesday.
The “possibility that a 6-year-old could be tried is problematic,” he told NBC News, adding that he believes a A child of that age would not be able to understand the consequences at stake or the intricacies of the legal system.
The boy shot his 25-year-old teacher, Abigail Zwerner, of Richneck Elementary School, with a 9mm pistol. gun on January 6.
The victim was injured in the hand and chest, but managed to help approximately 20 students safely exit the classroom. A day earlier, the boy received a one-day suspension for allegedly breaking Zwerner’s cell phone.
Before the shooting, three teachers reportedly went to the school administration to share their concerns about the boy’s behavior, including rumors that he had a weapon on campus.
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Zwerner’s attorney, Diane Toscano, called the shooting “entirely preventable,” but the administration failed to act in time. A notice of intent to sue was filed on behalf of the teacher.
Since the shooting, the school has installed metal detectors on its campus and fired its superintendent and vice principal.
The boy is now receiving the “treatment he needs” after the court ordered his detention at a nearby medical center, according to his parents.
The gun used in the incident was legally purchased by his mother, police said.
The family claimed the gun had been “secured” at their home, adding that they “have always been committed to responsible gun ownership and keeping firearms out of the reach of children.”
Gwynn says there is currently no timeline for when charges can be filed against the adults involved.
“We have to make our decision based on our ability to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime occurred,” the prosecutor said.