A student at Richneck Elementary School in Newport News, Va., described the harrowing situation known as lockdown Friday as police investigate the circumstances that led to a 6-year-old boy allegedly shooting and wounding a teacher at Richneck Elementary School in Newport News, Va. time.
“We were doing math . . . an announcer came up and she said, ‘Block, I repeat block,’ ” said Novah Jones, a fifth-grader in another classroom. “I was terrified … it was like I was locked down for the first time and I didn’t know what to do so I was hiding under the table like everyone else.”
Nova told CNN she and her mother first believed that there was a man with a gun at the school.
“I was thinking … a man was going to shoot us,” Nova said.
The teacher, who was injured in Friday’s shooting, was initially described as life-threatening and was in stable condition Saturday, according to the Newport News Police Department.
Authorities and the Newport News Public School District did not release the teacher’s name, but her alma mater, James Madison University, identified her as Abby Zwerner.
The 6-year-old boy is in police custody, Police Chief Steve Drew said at a news conference, adding “this was not an accidental shooting.”
Drew said there was an altercation between the teacher and the student who had a gun. He added that only one shot was fired and no other students were involved.
Drew told CNN affiliate WTKR that all students at the school, along with teachers, were evacuated from classrooms following the shooting and taken to the gymnasium, where they were with counselors and officials.
The shooting came just six days after New Year’s Eve, when police swarmed and “Happy New Year” signs still hang outside the campus.
When police arrived at the school, Nova texted her mother to tell her the school was locked down. “I texted her and said ‘Mom, help me.'”
“I couldn’t breathe in shock,” said her mother, Kasheba Jones, after receiving the text.
While she was able to get home safely, Nova said she couldn’t sleep that night, worried “he’s still got the gun and he’s coming to my house.”
“I love flashbacks,” Nova said.
Novah is one of many children traumatized by a school shooting. School shootings in the United States, while still rare compared with other incidents of gun violence, have become far more common than in any other country. In 2022, there will be at least 60 shootings in K-12 schools, according to a CNN analysis.
School and law enforcement officials will have to evaluate whether further steps can be taken to prevent the shooting, Newport News Public Schools Superintendent George Parker said in a statement Saturday night.
“A six-year-old student who had access to a weapon brought that item into his first-grade classroom. There are a number of issues we need to address before we can determine whether any additional precautions would affect the likelihood of this incident,” Packer said. Write to District families and staff Saturday.
“As well as assessing our established security procedures, we need community support to significantly reduce the likelihood of a child or young person acquiring a weapon,” Parker added.
Parker said the school had contingency plans in place to provide immediate medical attention to the injured teacher.
“While no amount of planning can guarantee that a tragedy like this will not happen; please know that our collective efforts and preparations have provided immediate medical attention to our faculty, no students were injured, and a safe environment for our families and students An efficient reunion process,” Parker said.
Principal Briana Foster Newton said in a statement the primary school would remain closed on Monday and Tuesday to give the community “time to heal” as the investigation continued.
Meanwhile, community members are grappling with the suspect’s age.
Nova said she struggled to understand how someone so young could have a gun or pull a trigger.
Her mother responded to these questions.
“First of all, where did he get the gun and how did he know how to aim and shoot?” Jones said.
Investigators will look into how the child obtained the gun, Drew said.
“It’s almost impossible for us to contemplate the fact that a 6-year-old first grader came to school with a loaded pistol and shot a teacher; yet, that’s exactly what our community is grappling with today,” said Newber Tenius Mayor Phillip D. Jones said in a statement. statement Posted on Twitter.
Authorities are “working hard to answer the questions we’re all asking – how did this happen? And while we continue to process what happened, we’re also trying to make sure the child gets the support and services he needs,” Jones said.
“We’ve been in touch with our federal prosecutors and a number of other entities to help us best serve this young man,” Drew said Friday.