Va. Teacher Shot by 6-Year-Old Plans to Sue School, Lawyer Says: 'Failures on Multiple Levels'

In an interview with TODAY's Savannah Guthrie, Abigail Zwerner spoke about the Jan. 6 shooting

Abby Zwener, Newport News school shooting victim
Abigail Zwerner. Photo: Abby Zwerner/Facebook

The 25-year-old teacher who was shot by her 6-year-old student in January is planning to sue the administration at the Virginia school district where it happened.

In an interview with TODAY's Savannah Guthrie, Abigail Zwerner gave an update on her healing nearly three months after the life-altering shooting — and her attorney, Diane Toscano, spoke about the next legal steps she's taking.

"I was terrified," Zwerner said, describing the immediate moments after the shooting. "In that moment, my initial reaction was your kids need to get out of here. You know, this is not a safe classroom anymore and then you need to go find help for yourself."

Zwerner said that when the 6-year-old shot her, the bullet went through her left hand, rupturing the middle bone and her index finger and thumb.

"The gunshot then went into my chest up here where it actually still remains, so I have a scar up here, and I still have some bullet fragments," Zwerner said.

Zwerner also said that as a result of the shooting, her lung collapsed. "I started not being able to breathe, very raspy breaths, and my vision started going out," she said.

Toscano sat next to Zwerner during the interview and said that she plans to file a lawsuit against school administrators at Richneck Elementary School in Newport News, Va., where the shooting took place on behalf of Zwerner.

"There have been many failures and there are multiple people responsible for those failures," Toscano said.

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During a Jan. 25 press conference, Toscano thanked teachers on behalf of Zwerner, saying that it was a fellow teacher who restrained the shooter until authorities arrived. But Toscano alleged that school administrators failed to take action when they began to hear rumors about the boy having a gun at school.

"On that day, over the course of a few hours, three different times — three times — school administration was warned by concerned teachers and employees that the boy had a gun on him at the school and was threatening people," Toscano said during the press conference. "But the administration could not be bothered. This tragedy was entirely preventable if the school administrators responsible for school safety had done their part and had taken action when they had knowledge of imminent danger, but instead, they failed to act and Abby was shot."

Richneck Elementary School did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.

Toscano will file the lawsuit in two weeks, according to TODAY. Zwerner also confirmed to Guthrie that she feels the school should have done more.

"I can tell you there were failures on multiple levels in this case, and there were adults that were in positions of authority that could have prevented this tragedy from happening and did not," Toscano said, TODAY reports.

Shortly after the shooting, Newport News Police Chief Steve Drew said at a press conference that the young student was taken into custody; Drew described the shooting as intentional. Newport News Commonwealth's Attorney Howard Gwynn told NBC News in early March that the 6-year-old will not face charges.

It is unclear at this time if anyone else will be charged in connection with the shooting.

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