Mother Sentenced to Prison for Child’s Involvement in Teacher Shooting

Newport News, Virginia – A 25-year-old Virginia woman has been sentenced to two years in prison for child neglect after her 6-year-old son shot and wounded his first-grade teacher earlier this year. Deja Taylor had pleaded guilty to the state felony child neglect charge in August. On January 6, at Richneck Elementary School in Newport News, her son shot his first-grade teacher. 

Taylor’s sentence includes five years behind bars with three years suspended, along with two years of supervised probation. As part of her probation, she will undergo substance abuse treatment, parenting classes, and mental health treatment. Last month, Taylor received an additional 21-month prison sentence on federal charges related to drug use and firearm possession. The investigation into the shooting is still ongoing, according to the Newport News Commonwealth Attorney’s Office.

The incident left Abigail Zwerner, the first-grade teacher, seriously wounded. Zwerner was hit by a bullet that passed through her hand and struck her chest. She has since undergone four surgeries and still has a bullet lodged in her body, according to her attorney, Diane Toscano. Zwerner testified at Taylor’s hearing, expressing the physical and psychological scars she continues to suffer from the incident.

Zwerner has also filed a $40 million lawsuit against the school district, claiming negligence on the part of school administrators. The lawsuit alleges that the school failed to provide a safe environment for its staff and students. 

As a result of negligence and improper firearm storage, the shooting incident serves as a tragic example of what can happen when left unchecked. The incident has sparked a discussion on the importance of responsible firearm ownership, especially in households with young children.

Zwerner is focused on her recovery and seeking compensation for the harm she has suffered. She said that she would live with shooting every day. “It could’ve been fatal,” Zwerner said on the  TODAY show in March. “We believe — with my hand being up, with it going through my hand first — we believe that, by the bullet going through the hand first, that it most likely saved my life.”