5th grader threatens shooting at Newport News elementary school

ByBeatrice Peterson ABCNews logo
Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Newport News Police are investigating after a fifth-grade student at Richneck Elementary School texted in a group text with other students that they would "pop some bullets" and "tell someone to shoot up the class" on Saturday. This latest incident at Richneck Elementary comes as the police investigation into what led to a 6-year-old student shooting his teacher, Abby Zwerner, mid-instruction back in January was completed on Tuesday. As a precaution, Newport News Police provided increased security for school arrivals.

Richneck school administrator Karen Lynch sent a letter to parents on Monday to tell them about the incident that occurred over the weekend. One of the students in the group chat reported the messages to their parent and the parent then notified a teacher who informed Lynch.

The student was immediately "excluded from school" according to the letter obtained by ABC News. Lynch wrote to parents that "a thorough investigation is underway with the police department. A threat assessment is also in progress."

Lynch added, "Threats and safety concerns are always taken very seriously. Please rest assured that all protocols are being followed and this incident is being addressed accordingly." Lynch has been in leadership at the school since the former principal was reassigned after the January shooting at Richneck.

This latest incident happened over a month after Zwerner, a first-grade teacher, was shot in class by her 6-year-old student. In an intent-to-file lawsuit letter sent to the school district by Zwerner's lawyer and later obtained by ABC News, the teacher claimed that the boy had a history of violent behavior. Zwerner accused the school's assistant principal Ebony Parker, who has since resigned, of failing to act despite being told repeatedly that the student had a gun at school. Zwerner's attorney alleged in a letter notifying the district of the intent to file a lawsuit.

In the letter, Zwerner's attorney alleged that four teachers, including Zwerner and a guidance counselor, all warned Parker, about the student's behavior the day of the shooting, but Parker allegedly failed to act when she was first notified, between 11:15 and 11:30 a.m., and when Zwerner was shot at 1:59 p.m. Citing the school and police investigation into the incident, school officials have declined to share details about the ongoing case.

On Tuesday, the Newport News Police Department completed its investigation into Zwerner's shooting and presented the case to the Commonwealth's Attorney's Office at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday. The findings of the police investigation have not been made public. However, the Newport News School Division's separate investigation into the case, is still ongoing.

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