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The Independent

Mother of six-year-old who shot teacher in Virginia says she will ‘take responsibility’ for son’s actions

By Abe Asher,


The mother of the six-year-old child who allegedly shot his first grade teacher in Newport News , Virginia earlier this year said in an interview with ABC that she is “willing to take responsibility” for her son’s actions.

“That is my son, so I am, as a parent, obviously willing to take responsibility for him — because he can’t take responsibility for himself,” Deja Taylor said.

Ms Taylor is facing up to six years in prison on a felony count of child neglect and a misdemeanor count of recklessly leaving a firearm as to endanger a child.

She is also facing a federal charge of filing false information on the paperwork she submitted when purchasing the firearm that was used in the shooting of the teacher. Ms Taylor is accused of actively using marijuana when she purchased her gun from a Grafton, Virginia shop, and while marijuana is legal in Virginia, it is one of the controlled substances prospective gun buyers must admit to using on documents before purchasing their weapon.

The shooting took place at Richneck Elementary School on January 6, with the teacher, 25-year-old Abigail Zwerner, suffering gunshot wounds to her abdomen and hand. Ms Zwerner survived the shooting and has since filed a $40m lawsuit against the school district and school officials, alleging that they ignored repeated warnings about the danger the student posed.

Newport News Public Schools has filed to dismiss the lawsuit, claiming that Ms Zwerner’s injuries should be covered under the district’s workers’ compensation policy.

Ms Taylor’s legal approach may be less complicated. Her lawyer, Jimmy Ellenson, told WTKR that she plans to plead guilty to the latest charges filed against her and suggested that she’s already reached a deal with prosecutors.

“We’ve come to an agreement and a resolution, which I think will be satisfactory to all parties,” Mr Ellenson said.

In her interview with ABC, Ms Taylor said that her son has ADHD and that the week he shot her teacher was the first week he had not been accompanied to class by a parent that year. Ms Taylor said her son liked the teacher, but was frustrated with her during the week of the shooting.

“He was talking a lot about how felt like he was being ignored,” Ms Taylor said of that week. “So he would come home and [say], ‘Mom, I don’t think that she was listening to me. I didn’t like that.’ And then he actually ended up getting suspended the next day.”

Ms Taylor said that she kept the gun locked, and she and her attorney weren’t willing to elaborate in the ABC interview on how her child got hold of the weapon. The child’s grandfather, who now has custody of him, said he rarely talks about the shooting — preferring to talk about the days leading up to it instead.

Ms Taylor said she was beginning to form a relationship with Ms Zwerner given the time she spent in the classroom working with her and said she’s a “great person.”

“I would truly like to apologise that out of the incident she did get hurt,” Ms Taylor said.

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