RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A Virginia teacher who was shot and wounded in her first-grade classroom by a 6-year-old student was honored Wednesday by the state Senate for her “heroic actions” in hustling students to safety despite having life-threatening injuries.
Zwerner, 25, stood with her twin sister, brother and mother as she was given a framed resolution commending her for her devotion to the safety of her students after the shooting at Richneck Elementary School in Newport News on Jan. 6.
Police have said that after Zwerner was the last one to leave the classroom and collapsed in a school office. No one else was hurt.
Zwerner spent two weeks in the hospital. She has since had four surgeries and is still recovering from wounds to her hand and chest. No one else was hurt.
“She truly is one of Virginia’s great heroes, and I have enormous admiration for her,” said Senate Minority Leader Tommy Norment, a Republican.
Last week, Zwerner filed a $40 million lawsuit against the school system, accusing school officials of ignoring multiple warnings from teachers and other school employees that the boy had brought a gun to school on the day of the shooting.
Zwerner’s lawsuit also alleges that school officials knew the boy “had a history of random violence,” including an episode when he “strangled and choked” his kindergarten teacher.
On Monday, a grand jury indicted the boy’s mother on charges of felony child neglect and misdemeanor endangering a child by reckless storage of a firearm. The child used his mother’s 9 mm handgun to shoot Zwerner. Police say the weapon was purchased legally.
Prosecutors have also filed a petition seeking a special grand jury to investigate whether the “actions or omissions” of any school employees could lead to criminal charges. Howard Gwynn, the commonwealth’s attorney in Newport News, wants the grand jury to probe whether any “security failures” contributed to the shooting.