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NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — The family of the 6-year-old Virginia boy who allegedly shot his first-grade teacher at Richneck Elementary School released a statement for the first time since the shooting, calling the event "an unimaginable tragedy."
"Our heart goes out to our son's teacher and we pray for her healing in the aftermath of such an unimaginable tragedy as she selflessly served our son and the children in the school," the Thursday statement said.
The Virginia elementary school teacher wounded in the classroom shooting nearly two weeks ago has also been released from the hospital, according to a spokesperson for the facility. Abby Zwerner, 25, was shot on Jan. 6 at Richneck Elementary School in Newport News. Police have said a first-grade student, 6, was responsible.
Zwerner was shot in the chest after the bullet passed through one of her hands, Newport News Chief of Police Steve Drew told reporters.
Riverside Regional Medical Center spokesperson Angela Arcieri said Zwerner was released earlier this week.
"(Zwerner) continues her recovery as an outpatient with the support of family, friends, and health professionals. The Zwerner family respectfully asks for privacy during this time," Arcieri wrote in an emailed statement.
Police have described the shooting, which initially left Zwerner critically injured, as "intentional."
Zwerner has been praised for her heroic actions in keeping her students safe after she was shot. She made sure all her students made it out of the classroom, Drew said, and was the last person to leave her classroom before making her way to the administration office.
The gun allegedly used in the shooting was legally purchased by the child's mother, who could face charges at the end of the investigation, according to Drew. The child brought it to school in his backpack. It remains unclear how the child accessed the weapon.
Under Virginia law, it's a misdemeanor if an adult leaves a loaded, unsecured firearm in such a way it could endanger a child under the age of 14. The statute also says it is unlawful for a person to unknowingly allow a child under the age of 12 to use a firearm.
The school's classrooms are closed until at least Jan. 30, when the next semester begins. Officials have "organized a time for Richneck families to begin transitioning students back into the building" next Wednesday, according to the school's website.
The school is hosting emotional support services Thursday and Friday for students and families.
The Richneck shooting was the first of 2023 at a U.S. school, according to a CNN analysis. In 2022, there were 60 shootings at K-12 schools, the CNN analysis shows.
Still, school shootings by a suspect so young are very rare. According to the K-12 School Shooting Database, which tracks shootings in American schools since 1970, there have been three other cases in which the suspect was as young as 6: in 2000, 2011 and 2021.