Mom of 6-Year-Old Who Shot Richneck Teacher to Plead Guilty to Federal Charges

The boy’s 26-year-old mother also faces state child neglect and endangerment charges as a result of the Richneck Elementary School shooting.

Mom of 6-Year-Old Who Shot Richneck Teacher to Plead Guilty to Federal Charges

Photo: @13NewsNow Twitter

UPDATE JUNE 6, 2023: The mother of a 6-year-old male student who shot his first-grade teacher with a gun he brought to Richneck Elementary School with him in January will plead guilty to new federal felony charges.

The woman, Deja Taylor, 26, was charged with unlawful use of a controlled substance while in possession a firearm and with making a false statement while purchasing her semiautomatic handgun, reports CNN. She agreed to plead guilty to the charges and will enter her plea later this week or early next week.

Taylor also faces state charges, which were outlined in our April 12 article below.


Newport News, Virginia – A grand jury has indicted the mother of the 6-year-old Richneck Elementary School student who shot his first-grade teacher in January.

The 25-year-old mother was charged on Monday with felony child neglect and a misdemeanor count of recklessly leaving a firearm that endangers a child, reports WTKR. It was announced in March that her son will not face aggravated assault charges.

The boy shot his teacher, Abby Zwerner, in the chest with his mother’s gun on January 6. The local police chief says the shooting was intentional and that there was no warning or struggle before the boy shot one round at Zwerner, reports 13NewsNow.

Before the shooting, the child allegedly had a long history of troubling behavior at Richneck Elementary, including strangling and choking a teacher, inappropriate touching of a child, chasing other students around the playground with a belt, cursing at teachers and staff members, and more.

The mother’s attorney claims her gun, which police say was legally purchased, was secured on a top shelf in her closet and had a trigger lock, reports PBS.

Zwerner has filed a $40 million lawsuit, claiming Richneck Elementary School administrators ignored multiple warnings that the boy had a gun and posed an imminent threat. She is suing former Assistant Principal Ebony Parker, the Newport News School Board, former Superintendent George Parker III, and former Principal Briana Foster Newton.

The shooting prompted the school’s vice principal to resign in late January, reports WRIC.

In response to the shooting, security upgrades are being implemented on campus, including the installation of permanent metal detectors. Additionally, the front entrance will be redesigned to be a secure vestibule equipped with a buzzer so staff can screen visitors. A full-time security officer, rather than a part-time officer, will also patrol campus.

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About the Author

Robin Hattersley Gray

Robin has been covering the security and campus law enforcement industries since 1998 and is a specialist in school, university and hospital security, public safety and emergency management, as well as emerging technologies and systems integration. She joined CS in 2005 and has authored award-winning editorial on campus law enforcement and security funding, officer recruitment and retention, access control, IP video, network integration, event management, crime trends, the Clery Act, Title IX compliance, sexual assault, dating abuse, emergency communications, incident management software and more. Robin has been featured on national and local media outlets and was formerly associate editor for the trade publication Security Sales & Integration. She obtained her undergraduate degree in history from California State University, Long Beach.

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