NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — Newport News police Chief Steve Drew confirmed that the investigation into the shooting at Richneck Elementary School on Jan. 6 has been completed.
Drew confirmed this during his “Chat with the Chief” on social media Tuesday morning. He said the investigation was presented to the commonwealth’s attorney Tuesday.
He said he received a case update last Thursday that the detectives have completed their investigation and have completed their interviews.
The Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office will review the case and determine whether or not to file any charges.
Drew said the investigation was complicated for a few reasons, and he addressed some of the challenges with this particular case.
“We had a lot of witnesses, a lot of students, a lot of children to interview, and that took a long process,” he said.
It’s been nearly two months since a 6-year-old student at Richneck shot his first-grade teacher Abby Zwerner. Zwerner suffered injuries to her hand and chest during the shooting and was released from the hospital the week of Jan. 16. She has since been recovering at home.
Trauma-informed clinical psychologist Dr. Anjali Ferguson said that children can be reliable witnesses in the face of violent crime.
“They are valuable reporters who have accurate perceptions of the world,” Ferguson said. “I think that’s where making sure, again, the folks who’re speaking with them, talking with them, are trained in how to work with children is important.”
Charging the 6-year-old would be highly unusual because of his age. However, just last week, a mother in Norfolk was charged after her 6-year-old brought a gun to Little Creek Elementary School.
Following the shooting, Zwerner filed a lawsuit against Newport News Public Schools, alleging that the school administration was warned three times by teachers and employees that the student had a gun on him at school.
As schools continue to experience security threats, Ferguson recomends talking to students about their fears.
“Have the conversation, It’s important,” she said. “You can start with what they know or how they’re feeling. And, you don’t have to have every answer for them. It’s OK for you to be vulnerable in saying ‘Hey, this is scary, this is uncertain, but hey we’re going to figure this out together.'”
In late January, the families of two Richneck students also put NNPS on notice of their intent to file lawsuits against it.