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Newport News teacher gives first interview since January shooting

A person with red hair speaks on a TV set. A graphic in the top-left corner reads "TODAY EXCLUSIVE"
NBC News
Newport News teacher Abby Zwerner told The Today Show she was only thinking about getting her students out of the classroom after reportedly being shot by one of her students.

Zwerner said she wasn’t thinking about the bullet — only about the other children in the classroom.

Read the original story on WHRO's website.

Abby Zwerner, the Newport News teacher allegedly shot by a first-grade student in January, gave her first media interview since the incident to The Today Show on Tuesday.

With bright red hair and a handmade beaded bracelet that spelled “smile,” Zwerner told Today Show host Savannah Guthrie what happened the day she was shot.

“I didn't know at the time that my lung had collapsed, but I started not being able to breathe, very raspy breaths,” Zwerner said. “My vision started going out. I remember I went to the office, and I just passed out. I thought I had died.”

Zwerner said the 6-year-old student shot directly at her. She tried to block the bullet with her hand, which was shattered in three places. It then entered her chest. Zwerner told Guthrie there are still bullet fragments there.

Zwerner said she wasn’t thinking about the bullet — only about the other children in the classroom.

“I just wanted to get my babies out of there,” she said.

Newport News Commonwealth’s Attorney Howard Gwynn said earlier this month he doesn’t plan on charging the 6-year-old for the shooting.

Attorney Diane Toscano plans to sue the Newport News school district on Zwerner’s behalf.

“It is a miracle that more people were not harmed,” Toscano wrote.

Toscano said Richneck administrators failed to respond to teachers’ concerns about the child.

“I hope that the school district will not send a message that being shot while teaching a lesson in class by a student is merely a hazard of the job,” Toscano said.