The Virginia school district where a 6-year-old boy allegedly intentionally shot a teacher on Friday has had three instances of gun violence on district property in the past 17 months.
Prior to Friday’s incident at Richneck Elementary School, where police say a 6-year-old seriously injured a teacher when he opened fire in a classroom, there were shootings at two other schools within the Newport News Public Schools system. that rocked the community.
Newport News Public Schools consists of 26,500 students and includes three early childhood centers, 24 elementary schools, seven middle schools and five high schools, according to the district website.
In September 2021, a 16-year-old fired multiple shots in a crowded hallway inside Heritage High School during his lunch break, wounding two 17-year-olds, according to the NBC affiliate. CURLY.
The shooter was sentenced to 10 years in prison, according to the outlet.
Less than two months later, in December, 18-year-old Demari Batten fatally shot 17-year-old Justice Dunham in the parking lot of Menchville High School after a football game against Woodside High School, also within the High School system. Newport News Public Schools. according to CURLY.
Molly Hunter, whose three children attend an elementary school in the district, says the Newport News Public Schools’ response to the violence has been insufficient.
“The response from the District has made parents like me feel that the violence that is occurring within schools is not being adequately addressed,” he told NBC News. “I think the district is working hard; they’ve been having a hard time staffing our schools. It seems like they’re on edge and the violence issues are out of control.”
Newport News Public Schools Superintendent George Parker III did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Hunter says he knows that fixing the district’s gun violence problem is easier said than done, but actions like installing metal detectors, having adequate staffing, mental health counselors, and stricter visitor policies at schools they can help.
“Also, sensible gun laws! We just need a review of a lot of things,” Hunter said. “Parents like me are tired and scared, but also ready to fight for the safety of all of our students.”
Hunter isn’t the only Newport News Public Schools parent who believes metal detectors on campus can help address the problem of gun violence. Hanan Daoud, who also has children within the school district, agrees.
“Sorry is not enough!” Daoud commented on the school district’s post about Friday’s shooting. “What is your plan to stop this drama? Set up metal detectors at the school!”
Speaking at a press conference on Friday night, Parker said: “We have metal detection capability and all of our schools.”
But he said the devices are not used all the time, but can be activated earlier than desired based on a specific threat.
“If we sense a threat or problem, we administer random metal detection on those days,” he said. “We can check individual classrooms, individual students, and students.”
The superintendent said the use of metal detectors could increase and district leaders will have that discussion.
Daoud told NBC News that she remembered feeling “paralyzed” after hearing that there was a shooting in the school district on Friday.
“One of my friends called me to check on my kids, he was shopping,” Daoud said. “He was scared to death, I left the store and called my husband to see where the shooting was.”
The shooting did not occur at the school Daoud’s children attend, but it was another traumatic incident that scared parents and students alike, he said.
Richneck Elementary School will be closed on mondays and tuesdays in response to the latest shooting.
Newport News Police Chief Steve Drew met with the teacher, a woman in her 30s, and her family Saturday morning, according to a declaration released by police on Saturday afternoon.
Both the police department and Riverside Regional Medical Center, where the woman was recovering, said Saturday that she had stabilized since she was brought to the facility.
“She has improved,” police said in the statement. “Due to the ongoing nature of the investigation, we will not release any further information at this time.”
Richneck Principal Briana Foster Newton said in a statement: “My heart aches for our school community. The tragic event that occurred on Friday impacts all of us deeply,” she said. “My thoughts and prayers remain with our teacher who was seriously injured, and our students and staff, who are dealing with the aftermath of this tragedy.”
Newport News Mayor Phillip Jones called the shooting “a red flag for the country,” according to The Associated Press.
“I think after this event, there will be a nationwide discussion about how these kinds of things can be prevented,” he told the outlet.
in a cheepVirginia Senator Mark Warner said he was “deeply disturbed” by the shooting and was “closely monitoring the situation.”
“My thoughts are with all the families and first responders,” he wrote.
It is unclear at this time if the 6-year-old is still in custody or if he has an attorney.
Authorities have not yet commented on where the boy might have obtained the weapon, which police described as a pistol.
Newport News Commonwealth’s attorney did not immediately respond to requests for comment.