Virginia mom of 6-year-old who shot teacher charged

A kindergarten class socially distances while preparing to leave their classroom at Stark Elementary School on October 21, 2020 in Stamford, Connecticut. Stamford Public Schools is continuing the fall semester with a hybrid model of in-class and distance learning, occasionally quarantining individual classes when a student or faculty member tests positive for COVID-19. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
(Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

OAN Geraldyn Berry
UPDATED 6:27 PM – Monday, April 10, 2023

According to the Newport News Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office, a grand jury in Virginia has indicted the mother of a 6-year-old boy accused of shooting his first-grade teacher earlier this year.  


25-year-old Deja Nicole Taylor is charged with felony child neglect, and a misdemeanor count of recklessly leaving a firearm so as to endanger a child.

The Commonwealth Attorney’s Office and the Newport News Police Department conducted an investigation that led to the filing of the charges.

“Every criminal case is unique in its facts, and these facts support these charges, but our investigation into the shooting continues,” Commonwealth’s Attorney Howard Gwynn said.

A “Special Grand Jury” has also been requested by the Commonwealth’s Attorney so that a Circuit Court judge can continue to look into security flaws that may have permitted the January shooting. The investigation may result in other people being charged with crimes in connection with the shooting.

First grade teacher Abby Zwerner, 25, was shot in the hand and the chest on January 6th by a 6-year-old student while she was seated at a reading table in her classroom in Newport News, Virginia. She underwent four procedures and was hospitalized for about two weeks.

According to the authorities, the child had used his mother’s legally acquired gun. The boy’s family’s lawyer, James Ellenson, had previously stated that the gun was locked on a high closet shelf.

The revelation of the indictment on Monday comes a week after Zwerner filed a lawsuit against school administrators, demanding $40 million in damages, accusing them of willful misconduct and ignoring many warnings that the kid was armed and in a “violent mood” on the day of the shooting.

The defendants in the action also include the Newport News School Board, former Superintendent George Parker III, former Richneck Principal Briana Foster-Newton, and former Richneck Assistant Principal Ebony Parker.

Howard Gwynn, the prosecutor in Newport News, declared last month that his office will not file criminal charges against the boy because he is too young to comprehend the legal system. Gwynn has not decided whether or not to charge any additional adults.

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