Abigail Zwerner

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Abigail Zwerner
Born 1997 (age 26–27)
Nationality USA
Occupation student
Known for Heroically evacuated her students after she was shot by a rogue student

Abigail Zwerner is an American teacher, who was shot by one of her students, on January 7, 2023.[1][2][3] Zwerner, 25 years old at the time, was regarded as an exemplary teacher, teaching Grade One at Rickneck Elementary in Newport News, Virginia.[4]

Education and family life

Zwermer followed a family tradition of becoming a teacher, several of her aunts are teachers.[4]

Zwermer two degrees are from James Madison University.[4] In 2019 she earned an interdisciplinary degree, with a minor in Education and Music. She followed that up with a Masters in Education, in 2000.


The student who shot her exhibited concerning behavior problems so severe his parents were supposed to attend class with him.[5] Other students would later say the child had declared he wanted to kill Zwerner. For reasons that remain unexplained As of January 2023 no-one from his family was available to control his behavior on the day of the shooting.

School authorities received a tip the student was carrying a firearm in his backpack, and his backpack was searched, without success.[6]

The firearm had been legally purchased by the student's mother.[5] Virginia law required her to store the weapon safely, and she claimed it was secured by a trigger lock, and was stored on the top shelf of her closet. As of January 2023 no explanation has been provided as to how the student got access to the weapon.

At 2pm on January 7, 2023, the student produced the weapon, and fired a single shot at Zwerner, perforating her hand and hitting her in the chest.[7] In spite of her life-threatening injuries Zwerner successfully evacuated the rest of her students from the classroom.

Zwermer's injuries were classed as life-threatening, but by January 19, she had been released from hospital, to continue her recovery at home.[5]

Rough work



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  1. 1.0 1.1 "Virginia school district where 6-year-old allegedly shot teacher has had 3 school-related shootings in 17 months". NBC News. 2023-01-08. https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/virginia-school-district-6-year-old-allegedly-shot-teacher-three-schoo-rcna64638. 
  2. Edward Helmore (2023-01-08). "Virginia shooting of teacher by six-year-old ‘not accidental’, authorities say". The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2023/jan/08/virginia-teacher-shooting-by-six-year-old. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Newport News: Condition of teacher shot by child improving". BBC News. 2023-01-08. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-64200873. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Denis Lavoie (2023-01-08). "Teacher shot by 6-year-old known as devoted to students". Associated Press (Richmond, Virginia). Archived from the original on 2023-01-20. https://web.archive.org/web/20230120150314/https://apnews.com/article/teaching-education-newport-news-virginia-2db4662a6d9f711c5bcd27b6142570a8. Retrieved 2023-01-23. "The custodians and other teachers spoke about how she’s a good teammate, she’s a team player, she loves her children, she’s just an all-around good teacher." 
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Brian Todd; Steve Almasy; Michelle Watson (2023-01-19). "Teacher allegedly shot by 6-year-old released from the hospital as child's family sends condolences, says the gun was secured". CNN. https://www.cnn.com/2023/01/19/us/virginia-school-shooting/index.html. "The gun was legally purchased by the child’s mother, who could face charges at the end of the investigation, according to Drew." 
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Six-year-old Virginia boy’s backpack was searched before he shot his teacher". the Guardian. 2023-01-13. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2023/jan/13/virginia-teacher-shooting-abigail-zwerner-child-backpack-searched. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 Liam Buckler (2023-01-07). "Teacher who screamed at pupils to flee after she was shot 'by boy aged SIX' pictured". The Mirror. https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/us-news/teacher-who-screamed-pupils-flee-28898069. Retrieved 2023-01-23. "Abby Zwerner, 25, from Williamsburg, Virginia, US, was teaching at Richneck Elementary School in Newport News when a pupil opened fire in the classroom at around 2pm on Friday, according to cops." 
  8. Joan M. Cook (11 Jan 2023). "Opinion | The 6-year-old accused of shooting his teacher shouldn’t be punished under the law". NBC News. https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/6-year-old-shoots-teacher-virginia-can-rehabilitated-rcna65144. 
  9. "Teacher shot by 6-year-old hailed a hero for helping pupils flee". The Independent. 2023-01-08. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/crime/abby-zwerner-teacher-shot-virginia-b2257939.html. 
  10. "Newport News: What happens to a six-year-old who shoots someone?". BBC News. 2023-01-10. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-64218521. 
  11. "6-year-old who allegedly shot Va. teacher used gun legally purchased by mom, police say". Washington Post. 2023-01-09. ISSN 0190-8286. https://www.washingtonpost.com/dc-md-va/2023/01/09/richneck-elementary-school-teacher-abigail-zwerner/. 
  12. Ben Finley; Denise Lavoie (2023-01-10). "Six-year-old shot Virginia teacher during a class lesson, police chief says". The Globe and Mail. https://www.theglobeandmail.com/world/article-six-year-old-shot-virginia-teacher-during-class-lesson-police-chief/. 
  13. Paul Bibeau; Sarah Mervosh; Tim Arango (2023-01-07). "After 6-Year-Old Is Accused in School Shooting, Many Questions and a Murky Legal Path". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. https://www.nytimes.com/2023/01/07/us/virginia-shooting-richneck-elementary.html. 
  14. Paul Bibeau; Sarah Mervosh; Tim Arango (2023-01-07). "6-Year-Old Brought Gun From Home in Newport News School Shooting, Police Say". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. https://www.nytimes.com/2023/01/09/us/newport-news-teacher-shooting.html. 
  15. "Newport News: Staff was alerted six-year-old may have had a weapon". BBC News. 2023-01-13. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-64252261. 
  16. Kayla Epstein (2023-01-10). "Virginia teacher who was shot by 6-year-old students to safety.". NBC News. https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/wounded-virginia-teacher-walked-students-safety-was-shot-6-year-old-of-rcna64938. 
  17. "Abby Zwerner: Six-year-old who shot his teacher brought gun from home". BBC News. 2023-01-09. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-64210387.