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Mother of 6-year-old who allegedly shot teacher charged

Two signs outside a school building. One, navy blue, reads "WE ARE PRAYING FOR YOU." The other reads "RICHNECK ELEMENTARY SCHOOL / RICHNECK STRONG" with hearts beside the text.
Ryan Murphy
Signs outside of Richneck Elementary School in Newport News show support for a teacher who was shot earlier this year.

Deja Nicole Taylor could face six years of prison total if convicted.

Read the original story on WHRO's website.

A grand jury on Monday indicted the mother of a 6-year-old student who allegedly shot his teacher at Newport News' Richneck Elementary School in January.

Deja Nicole Taylor, 25, faces a felony charge of child neglect and a misdemeanor for recklessly leaving a loaded firearm so as to endanger a child, according to a statement from the office of Newport News Commonwealth's Attorney Howard Gwynn.

She could face six years total if convicted — up to five for the felony charge and another year for the misdemeanor.

Newport News Police have said Taylor’s 6-year-old son used her handgun to shoot 25-year-old teacher Abby Zwerner. Taylor bought the gun legally in Yorktown, police said. An attorney for the Taylor family previously said the gun was secured.

Gwynn previously told the media he would not charge the child due to his age.

Prosecutors have also asked the Circuit Court to assemble a special grand jury to investigate security issues that may have contributed to the shooting. If that grand jury determines more people are criminally responsible, they may also be indicted, Gwynn said.

This follows the filing of a $40 million lawsuit by Zwerner against the Newport News school system for failing to stop the shooting.

“There were failures in accountability at multiple levels that led to Abby being shot and almost killed," Diane Toscano, Zwerner's lawyer, said following the announcement of charges being filed.

"[This] announcement addresses but one of those failures. It has been three months of investigation and still so many unanswered questions remain. Our lawsuit makes clear that we believe the school division violated state law, and we are pursuing this in civil court. We will not allow school leaders to escape accountability for their role in this tragedy.”

Zwerner's suit contends school administrators were aware of previous behavior issues with the boy and were warned several times, by multiple staff members, that the boy was armed and posed a threat the day he allegedly shot Zwerner in the hand and chest.

She argues the administration ignored the warnings and failed to address the threat.

The school district has already fired Superintendent George Parker, and the principal in charge of Richneck Elementary has been reassigned. The assistant principal who Zwerner's suit alleges received the warnings the day of the shooting has resigned from Newport News Public Schools.

The Uvalde Foundation for Kids, a Texas nonprofit that supports schools after shootings, announced it was canceling a grant awarded to Richneck after "abject failure" by administrators there. The foundation said it instead plans to give the grant directly to Zwerner.

Gwynn's office said in the statement they "will make no further public comment about these proceedings while they are pending."