Never-before-seen body camera footage shows police responding to a Virginia elementary school where a six-year-old student shot his teacher in January
Never-before-seen body camera footage shows police responding to a Virginia elementary school where a six-year-old student shot his teacher in January.
In the footage, one officer could be heard praying for the children stuck inside Richneck Elementary School on January 6.
Another officer could later be seen leading a group of students through the hallway, pretending they were on a train, as he tried to get them to safety.
Police have said an unnamed schoolboy stole his mother’s legally purchased handgun and snuck it into the school, before firing a single round into his teacher, Abigail Zwerner, striking her in the hand and chest.
The boy’s mother has since been charged with child neglect and endangering a child by reckless storage of a firearm.
Newly-released body camera footage shows Officer Clark Carter leading a group of children down the hallway of Richneck Elementary School with a big smile on January 6
He could later be seen high-fiving the students as he got them to safety following a shooting at the school
Another clip shows Officer Watkins driving towards the school, praying
On Friday, police in Newport News gathered at a local church to honor fallen officers and demonstrate their efforts in the community.
They then played a photo montage, releasing the body camera footage for the first time.
It started off with a clip of Officer Watkins driving to Richneck Elementary School as he responded to a call about a shooting.
‘Heavenly Father, keep our officers safe, keep our students safe, let us make decisions we need to make,’ he says as he heads toward the school building.
‘It’s hard to talk about without getting choked up,’ Police Chief Steve Drew told WRIC. ‘I know that officer, Officer Watkins, he’s been here for a while, he has a family of his own.’
‘I thought it was very fitting to see him exit his vehicle and run towards the school,’ Drew added. ‘I think that’s what officers do every day.’
Other footage included in the montage showed Officer Clark Carter leading a group of children down the hallway with a big smile.
‘We’re doing great, keep marching,’ he encourages the children. ‘Alright, we’re turning this train left — beep, beep.’
As the children exit the hallway to get to safety, Carter could also be seen high-fiving them.
‘You can’t pay somebody enough for that,’ Drew said. ‘You can’t train that — that comes from what you feel inside. You have to have a heart for service.’
Police have said an unnamed schoolboy stole his mother’s legally purchased handgun and snuck it into the school
Newport News police are pictured at the scene of the Virginia elementary school on January 6
Speaking of the experience with WTKR, Carter said he remembered it like it was yesterday.
‘Our goal was to give [the kids] something that would take their mind off of what just occurred,’ he explained. ‘My idea was to pretend we were riding motorcycles, and I got all the kids to put their hands up and pretend they were riding motorcycles.
‘We were revving our engines and rolling down the hallways.
‘It seemed to help, it took their minds off what occurred, and they were just playing a game.’
He said it took him and his fellow officers hours to lead the students to the gym.
‘It was nerve-wracking and we knew we had to get there, so we can protect the kids.’
And, Carter said, the response was ‘personal to me because I have kids who go to school in this city and I want somebody to respond the way I would respond to save their child to save mine.’
Deja Taylor, 25, the mother of the student accused of shooting his first-grade teacher, is facing several criminal charges
Abigail Zwerner, 25, suffered gunshot wounds to her hands and chest. She has since filed a lawsuit against the Newport News School District and Richneck Elementary officials claiming they ignored multiple warnings about the student’s behavior, as well as concerns he may have a gun
Police have said the unnamed boy used a legally-purchased gun to shoot Zwerner, 25, on January 6.
He was apparently having issues in school, and in a statement, his parents said the child was ‘under a care plan that included his mother or father attending school with him and accompanying him to class every day.’
The week of the shooting, they said, was the first week a parent was not with the student.
Zwerner has since filed a $40million lawsuit against the Newport News School District and Richneck Elementary officials claiming they ignored multiple warnings about the student’s behavior, as well as concerns he may have a gun.
Lawyers for the school board have filed a motion to dismiss the suit, claiming her injuries are covered under the state’s worker’s compensation law — for which she was approved to receive benefits, but which she turned down.
She has described the child in interviews as violent and said he ‘slammed the cellphone to the ground so hard it cracked and shattered.’
She also alleges in the lawsuit that the child had a ‘history of random violence’ and ‘attacked students and children alike.’
But in an interview with ABC News last week, Deja Taylor, 25, the mother of the boy accused of shooting the first-grade teacher, blamed her son’s ADHD diagnosis.
She said her son is a ‘great kid’ but is ‘very energetic’ due to his condition.
‘He’s off the wall,’ she said, noting he ‘doesn’t sit still, ever.’
Taylor also claimed her son ‘actually really liked’ Zwerner, but ‘felt like he was being ignored’ in class.
The cellphone incident, she said, happened after Zwerner said she told the boy to sit down when he was asking her a question.
‘You know, most children, when they are trying to talk to you, and if you easily just brush them off or you ask them to sit down, or you’re dealing with something else and you ask them to go and sit down at six [years old], you in your mind would believe that “somebody’s not listening to me” and you have a tantrum,’ Taylor claimed.
‘He threw his arms up,’ she said of the incident. ‘He said, “Fine,” and then when he threw his arms up, he knocked her phone out of her hand on accident.’
She said only the screen of the phone had broken, and she tried to offer to pay for its replacement.
Taylor blamed her son’s ADHD diagnosis for the shooting in an interview with ABC News last week
The boy is now in her grandfather’s care, and her attorney argues that the ultimate responsibility for the shooting should fall on the school officials
Taylor’s attorney, James Ellenson, also argued that the ultimate responsibility for the shooting should fall on the school officials who prematurely enrolled the boy in first grade, despite knowing he had only attended two months of kindergarten and two months of preschool.
They were also aware of the boy’s ADHD diagnosis, he claimed.
But, Taylor’s family said the school informed her that she is no longer required to be present in the classroom.
‘He had started medication and he was meeting his goals academically,’ Taylor’s grandfather, Calvin Taylor, said.
He now has custody of the boy and agreed that the child’s ‘behavior had changed [for the better] in the classroom prior to the incident.
‘He was more attentive, he tried to follow along, he tried to do the coursework,’ Calvin said. ‘But in all fairness to the other kids in the class, sometimes it was too much for him.’
The boy is now in another school and is getting therapy, Calvin added.
It remains unclear how the boy acquired the gun, which was legally purchased. Students are pictured here returning to the elementary school on January 30
It remains unclear how the boy acquired the gun, which was legally purchased.
Deja has said the gun was secured on a top shelf in her closet and had a trigger lock.
But at the time, she now admits, her mental state was frail as she was suffering from postpartum depression following a string of miscarriages. She was even hospitalized for a week.
Taylor now says she feels regret for what happened.
‘I just truly would like to apologize that… she did get hurt,’ the mother told GMA. ‘We were actually kind of forming a relationship with me having to be in the classroom. And she is really a bright person.’
Taylor is facing felony charges of child neglect, which is punishable by up to five years in prison.
She has also been charged with a misdemeanor offence of endangering a child by reckless storage of a firearm, which carries a maximum penalty of one year behind bars.
But her attorney, Ellenson, said that if she is found guilty she should instead be sentenced to probation or community service.
DailyMail.com has reached out to the Newport News school district for comment.