US teacher praised as hero after being shot by six-year-old

Estimated 44,000 gun-related deaths occurred in the US last year

A vigil was held on Monday for Abby Zwerner, the teacher shot by a six-year-old pupil at Richneck Elementary. AP
Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

US authorities on Monday praised the heroism of a schoolteacher who was shot and wounded by a six-year-old boy, saying she saved lives by evacuating all her pupils before seeing to her own care.

“I believe that Miss Zwerner, Abigail, she saved lives on Friday,” Steve Drew, police chief of Newport News, Virginia, said after a pupil shot her in her first grade classroom at Richneck Elementary School.

The pupil and the teacher were having a discussion when he pulled out the pistol, authorities said. Ms Zwerner stuck her hand out in a defensive gesture and the child fired a bullet that punctured her hand before entering her chest.

“She made sure that every one of those kids were out of that room and she was the last one to leave. So I believe she did save lives,” Chief Drew stressed.

Still in hospital on Monday, she was in stable condition, he added.

School shootings plague the US, 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 US last year, about half of them murder cases, accidents and self-defence, and half of them suicides, according to the Gun Violence Archive database.

The solemnity of the Sandy Hook Memorial

Updated: January 10, 2023, 7:18 PM