The family of a 6-year-old boy who shot and wounded a teacher say they have been committed to responsible gun ownership and that the weapon he used has been “secured”.
Abigail Zwerner, still recovering from a gunshot wound and described as a hero by police, educators and others, jumped from Riverside in Newport News, Virginia, earlier this week District Medical Center was discharged.
The 25-year-old teacher was shot in the chest by a student at Richneck Elementary School on Jan. 6, and her injuries were initially feared life-threatening. But with the support of family, friends and medical professionals, she is now continuing her recovery as an outpatient.
Meanwhile, the child’s family issued a statement on Friday saying he was “severely disabled” and was usually accompanied by his parents to classes.
“Our family has always been committed to responsible gun ownership and keeping guns out of the reach of children,” the statement read.
“The guns our son uses are safe.”
The family did not provide further details on where the 9mm pistol was stored or what they meant by “safe.”
Family ‘regretfully’ absent
The statement added that the boy was “severely disabled and was in a care program at school, which included his mother or father accompanying him to school and accompanying him to classes on a daily basis”.
The week of the shooting “was the first week we didn’t have class with him,” the family said. “We will regret missing this day for the rest of our lives.”
Newport News attorney James S. Ellenson released a statement on behalf of the family, their first public statement since the shooting occurred nearly two weeks ago.
According to police, the gun was legally purchased by the child’s mother, but it is unclear how he obtained it.
A Virginia law prohibits leaving loaded firearms within the reach of children under 14, classing it as a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in prison and a $2,500 (£2,027) fine.
Newport News Police Chief Steve Drew said no charges have been filed against the mother, but the investigation is continuing.
Asked whether the boy’s parents would be responsible for the incident, Mr Drew said he wanted to ensure detectives could conduct a thorough investigation without rushing it, describing the shooting as an “unprecedented incident”.
At the time, authorities said there was no warning or struggle before the shooting, which happened while Ms. Zwerner was in class.
Teacher ‘works hard’ to support family
The statement from the boy’s family also elaborated on the boy’s relationship with Ms Zwerner, saying: “Our hearts go out to our son’s teacher and we pray for her recovery after such an unimaginable tragedy as she selflessly served us. son and children serve at school.
“She has worked diligently and compassionately to support our family as we seek the best possible education and learning environment for our son,” the statement continued.
“We are grateful for her courage, grace and sacrifice. We join all other teachers, families and administrators in mourning for the impact of this terrible event on them, our community and our country.”
The child has been in hospital since the shooting and is receiving “the treatment he needs,” they added.
“We continue to pray for his teacher’s full recovery and for her loved ones, who are undoubtedly disturbed and concerned,” the statement said.
“In the meantime, we love our son and please pray for him and our family.”