The Virginia teacher who was shot by her 6-year-old student sent a text message to a loved one before she was shot telling him the boy was armed and school officials weren’t acting, according to a source close to the school. situation.
The source said Tuesday that Zwerner sent the text about an hour before he was shot Jan. 6, saying the student said he had a gun in his backpack and that administrators at Richneck Elementary School in Newport News did not. they were helping.
The text message “showed his frustration,” said the source, who only revealed the details of the single text message to NBC News and not the messages before or after it. “She was frustrated because she was trying to get help with this child, for this child, and then when she needed help, no one would come.”
When asked about Zwerner’s text and previous safety concerns from teachers and staff, Newport News Public Schools spokeswoman Michelle Price said, “Everything that has been reported to our School leadership regarding concerns at Richneck by teachers and staff members is part of the investigation. It is being fully investigated.”
A law firm representing the Zwerner family said it could not confirm the text and did not respond to requests for comment from the family. A lawyer for the family will hold a press conference on Wednesday morning.
The news of Zwerner’s direct warning comes after school system superintendent George Parker III said at a virtual town hall this month that the boy had been late for school and that his backpack was inspected upon arrival at the school. office to sign inside, according to parents who watched the meeting.
“At least one administrator was notified of a possible weapon,” Parker said in video reviewed by NBC News.
A Newport News police spokeswoman said authorities also determined through their investigation that “a school employee was notified of a possible firearm at Richneck Elementary before the shooting occurred,” adding: “The Newport News Police Department was not notified of this information prior to the incident.” .”
No further details were released about who conducted the search, why the weapon was not found and whether the boy’s clothing was physically examined.
Zwerner, 25, was hailed a hero by police who said that after she was intentionally shot and seriously wounded in the hand and chest, she still managed to safely escort about 20 students out of her first-year class. degree at Richneck. She was released from the hospital last week.
“I think she saved lives, because I don’t know what else could have happened if those kids had stayed in that room,” Newport News Police Chief Steve Drew said during a news conference earlier this month.
No charges related to the case have been publicly announced.
Last week, The Washington Post reported that school administrators had downplayed previous warnings about the student despite repeated requests for help. School employees told Parker that Zwerner had asked for help with the student “multiple times” during the school year, according to messages obtained by the Post and not independently verified by NBC News. The messages do not indicate who Zwerner sought help from.
Another message from a teacher obtained by the Post details the student’s disruptive behavior that preceded the shooting, though the dates of the alleged behavior are unclear.
Richneck’s principal and assistant principal did not respond to Post requests for comment about the teacher’s account. School district spokeswoman Michelle Price told the Post that she could not “share any information in a child’s educational record” and also cited the ongoing police investigation and the school’s internal investigation.
Drew has said that the boy’s mother legally purchased the 9mm Taurus firearm used in the shooting and that the boy took the gun from his home. Whether he was properly insured is a key element in the investigation, he said.
The family of the boy who shot Zwerner said in a statement last week that the gun was “secured” when the boy took it from his home, but gave no further details.
“Our family has always been committed to responsible gun ownership and keeping firearms out of the reach of children. The firearm our son accessed was seized,” said the statement, issued by the family’s attorney, James Ellenson.
The statement also says that the boy “suffers from an acute disability and was under a plan of care at school that included his mother or father attending school with him and accompanying him to class every day. In addition, our son has benefited from an extensive community of care that also includes his grandparents who work alongside us and other caregivers to ensure his needs and accommodations are met. The week of the shoot was the first week we weren’t in class with him. We will mourn our absence on this day for the rest of our lives.”
Since the shooting, the statement added, the boy has been in a hospital receiving the “treatment he needs.”
Ellenson did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday night about Zwerner’s text. before the shooting.
Richneck has been closed since the shooting. He is scheduled to reopen Monday and will be equipped with a metal detector, school officials said.
The district has secured funding for 90 state-of-the-art metal detectors that will be placed in every school in the district, officials said.
The school district has had three cases of gun violence in 17 months.