The Mayan Journey | International | ap

A 6-year-old student shot and wounded a teacher at her Virginia school during an altercation inside a first-grade classroom Friday, police and school officials in the city of Newport News said.

Experts said a school shooting involving a 6-year-old is extremely rare, though not unheard of, while Virginia law limits the ways a child of that age can be punished for such a crime.

No students were injured in the shooting at Richneck Elementary School, police said. The teacher, a woman in her 30s, sustained life-threatening injuries. Her condition had improved somewhat by late afternoon, Newport News Police Chief Steve Drew said.

“We didn’t have a situation where someone was around the school shooting,” Drew told reporters, later adding that the shooting was not an accident.

Drew said the boy had a gun in the classroom and investigators were trying to figure out where he got it. The police chief did not provide further details about the shooting, the altercation or what happened inside the school.

Joselin Glover, whose son is in the fourth grade, told the newspaper The Virginian-Pilot that he received a text from the school saying that one person was shot and another was in custody.

“My heart stopped,” he said. “She was freaking out, very nervous. She was just asking me if that person was my son.”

Carlos, his 9-year-old son, was at recess. But he said he and his classmates soon took refuge in the back of a classroom.

“Most of the whole class was crying,” Carlos told the newspaper.

Parents and students gathered outside a gym, Newport News Public Schools said via Facebook.

The police chief did not specifically address questions about whether authorities were in contact with the boy’s parents, but said members of the police department were handling that investigation.

“We have been in contact with our Commonwealth’s attorney (local prosecutor) and a few other entities to help us better serve this young man,” Drew said.

Newport News is a city of about 185,000 in southeastern Virginia known for its shipyard, which builds the nation’s aircraft carriers and other vessels for the United States Navy.

Richneck has about 550 students in kindergarten through fifth grade, according to the Virginia Department of Education website. School officials have already said there will be no classes at school on Monday.

“Today our students learned a lesson about gun violence,” said George Parker III, Newport News superintendent of schools, “and what guns can do to disrupt, not just an educational environment, but also a family, a community.” .

Virginia law does not allow 6-year-olds to be tried as adults.

Also, a 6-year-old is too young to be taken into the custody of the Department of Juvenile Justice if convicted.

However, a juvenile judge would have the authority to revoke custody of a parent and place the child under the supervision of the Department of Social Services.

A school shooting involving a 6-year-old is extremely rare, said James Alan Fox, a criminologist at Northeastern University in Boston.

Fox told The Associated Press on Friday night that he could think of a previous incident involving a child of that age.

In 2000, a 6-year-old boy fired a round from a .32-caliber handgun inside Buell Elementary School near Flint, Michigan, 60 miles from Detroit, wounding 6-year-old Kayla Rolland in the neck, according to an AP article at the time. She died half an hour later.

Fox analyzed data sets of school shootings going back to 1970 from the Center for Defense and Homeland Security, which is located at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. She said the data lists school shootings involving children ages 7, 8, 9 and older, but not 6-year-olds.

Another factor that stands out about the Virginia shooting is that it occurred in a classroom, Fox said. Many occur outside of a school building where students are not supervised.

From 2010 through 2021, there were more than 800 school-related shootings at K-12 schools involving 1,149 victims. Thirty percent of them occurred in the school building, said Fox, who published the 2010 book, “Violence and Security on Campus: From Preschool Through College.”

“There are students who killed teachers, more typically high school students,” Fox said. “I don’t know of any other cases where a 6-year-old shot a teacher.”

File: Several injured in shooting outside Florida restaurant

Editing: Laura Espejo

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