Six-year-old boy held after shooting female teacher in US state of Virginia
A six-year-old boy opened fire in an elementary school classroom in the eastern US state of Virginia on Friday, seriously injuring a teacher, police said.
No students were hurt in the incident at Richneck Elementary School in the coastal city of Newport News.
"The individual is a six-year-old student. He is right now in police custody," local police chief Steve Drew told a news conference, adding that "this was not an accidental shooting."
Police said that the victim was a teacher in her 30s and her injuries were believed to be life-threatening.
"I'm in shock, and I'm disheartened," said the city's superintendent of schools, George Parker. "We need the community's support to make sure that guns are not available to youth."
There was no further explanation for how a 6-year-old acquired the handgun. Police described it as an "altercation" in the first-grade classroom that resulted in one shot fired.
"This was not an accidental shooting," Drew said, later adding: "I want to know where that firearm came from." The boy was in custody, Drew said.
No students were injured. They were moved to a gymnasium for their safety, and counselors were made available, Drew said.
"They are safe. They are interacting with officers and having some fun, slapping some high fives and teasing each other," Drew said. Students were reunited with their parents under a school escort, Drew said.
"Right now it's still raw, but what I will tell you is there's going to be a full after-action (report), not only internally from the city council with the school board and others, but we are going to ensure that we have the right steps and policies so that this doesn't happen again," Newport News Mayor Phillip Jones told reporters.
In the same news conference, schools superintendent George Parker lamented educators' inability to keep guns out of school, saying he was "shocked" and "disheartened."
"We need to keep guns out of the hands of our young people," Parker said. "I cannot control access to weapons. My teachers cannot control access to weapons."
School shootings plague the United States, with recent tragedies including the killing last May of 19 children and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas, by an 18-year-old gunman.
There were an estimated 44,000 gun-related deaths in the United States last year, about half of them murder cases, accidents and self-defense, and half of them suicides, according to the Gun Violence Archive database.