Mother of six-year-old who shot Virginia school teacher pleads guilty

The mother of a six-year-old who shot his teacher in a Virginia classroom has pleaded guilty to a charge of felony child neglect, US media report. Deja Taylor, 26, entered the guilty plea as part of a deal with prosecutors to lessen the sentencing from up to six years to six months.

The incident occurred on 6 January, when Taylor’s son shot Abigail Zwerner, a teacher at Richneck Elementary School in Newport News. As a result, the case cast a renewed spotlight on issues of school safety and gun violence. Zwerner suffered injuries to her hand and chest, requiring a long hospital stay and multiple surgeries. She later filed a $40 million lawsuit against the school district.

Taylor had initially claimed that she believed the gun was secure in her purse, locked with a trigger lock, with the key hidden under her bedroom mattress. However, during her guilty plea, she admitted that the gun was stored in a way that made it accessible to her son. According to court documents, the six-year-old took the gun from his mother’s purse, which was on top of a dresser, and the gun was not secured with a trigger lock.

In June, Taylor had also pleaded guilty to a federal charge of using marijuana while possessing a firearm. The sentencing for that case is also scheduled for October.

As part of Taylor’s plea deal, the misdemeanor charge of reckless storing of a firearm was dropped. Her defense lawyer, James Ellenson, expressed Taylor’s remorse and stated that she feels responsible and regrets her actions. Ellenson believes that no prison time will be an appropriate sentence for Taylor.

The sentencing for Taylor’s child neglect charge is set for 27 October, where the court will carefully consider the circumstances of the incident and the impact it had on Zwerner, as well as the larger issue of school safety and gun violence. It is important to approach this case with sensitivity, taking into account the potential consequences for both Taylor and her son. Overall, this incident serves as a tragic reminder of the need for responsible gun ownership and secure storage to prevent such accidents from occurring in the future.