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Mother of 6-year-old Newport News shooter pleads guilty in federal court

Richneck Elementary School
Ryan Murphy
Richneck Elementary School closed temporarily following the January 2023 shooting.

Read the original story on WHRO's website.

The mother of the 6-year-old boy who shot his teacher in Newport News in early January pleaded guilty Monday in federal court.

Deja Taylor, 25, faces up to 25 years in prison for the charges of illegally obtaining and possessing a firearm and making a false statement on a federal form in order to buy a gun.

Taylor’s son shot and injured his first-grade teacher at Richneck Elementary School with that gun, prosecutors say.

Newport News police previously said the 9mm, semiautomatic handgun was purchased legally in Yorktown.

The U.S. Justice Department said in a statement this week that Taylor lied about her illegal drug use when filling out a required form before purchases called the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Firearms Transaction Record.

An attorney for Taylor's family said a few months ago that the gun was secured in their home. Prosecutors, however, said federal agents searched the home and did not find a lockbox or trigger lock.

“Federal requirements for firearm ownership are not optional and exist to protect owners, their family members, and the communities where they live," U.S. Attorney Jessica Aber said in a statement Monday. "Failing to abide by those requirements when purchasing or possessing a firearm can have far-reaching consequences.”

Taylor faces additional criminal charges under Virginia law. A grand jury previously indicted her for felony child neglect and a misdemeanor of recklessly leaving a loaded firearm so as to endanger a child.

Newport News Commonwealth's Attorney Howard Gwynn has said he will not charge the 6-year-old shooter due to age.

Taylor will be sentenced for the federal charges in October.