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Mother of 6-year-old who shot Newport News teacher speaks for first time in TV interview

<i>Billy Schuerman/Daily Press/Tribune News Service/Getty Images</i><br/>Deja Taylor
Billy Schuerman
Billy Schuerman/Daily Press/Tribune News Service/Getty Images
Deja Taylor

By Michelle Watson, CNN

The mother of the 6-year-old who shot his teacher at an elementary school in Newport News, Virginia, spoke exclusively Wednesday on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

Deja Taylor told ABC’s Linsey Davis in the interview that as a parent, she accepts responsibility for the shooting and apologized to his teacher.

“That is my son, so I am as a parent, obviously, willing to take responsibility for him, because he can’t take responsibility for himself,” Taylor said.

Taylor’s 6-year-old child shot his teacher Abigail Zwerner in January. Zwerner, a 25-year-old teacher at Richneck Elementary School, suffered gunshot wounds to her hand and chest but survived.

Taylor described her son as having ADHD, saying that while “some are able to have it at a very mild rate, but he’s off the wall, doesn’t sit still — ever.”

Because of the student’s “acute disability,” one of his parents was usually in the classroom with him, according to a statement previously released by his family. Taylor said family members stopped attending classes with him the week of the shooting because “he had started medication” and “was meeting his goals academically.”

Taylor said her son “actually really liked” Zwerner but felt like he was being ignored in school.

Taylor described an incident in class after Zwerner asked him to sit down, saying, “He threw his arms up, he said fine and when he threw his arms up, he knocked her phone out of her hand, on accident. And he got suspended for that.”

In the wake of the shooting, Zwerner filed a lawsuit against school administrators and the school board alleging they were aware of the student’s “history of random violence” and did not act proactively amid concerns over a firearm in the boy’s possession on the day of the shooting, according to the lawsuit obtained by CNN.

Davis pressed the family and family attorney — twice — on how the child accessed the gun.

When asked the first time, family attorney James Ellenson said, “Nobody knows.”

Davis asked Ellenson again.

“We’re not ready to discuss that at this point,” he said, adding, “I don’t know that any adult knows exactly how he got the gun.”

The gun was purchased by Taylor and was kept on the top shelf of her bedroom closet, secured by a trigger lock, Ellenson told CNN in January. The child brought the gun to school in his backpack, police said.

The child will not be criminally charged, Newport News Commonwealth’s Attorney Howard Gwynn said in March.

Taylor was charged in April with felony child neglect and one count of recklessly leaving a firearm to endanger a child. Ellenson previously told CNN his client has not entered a plea but he plans to try to work out a plea deal for Taylor before the trial starts.

™ & © 2023 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

CNN’s Lauren Mascarenhas, Dakin Andone, Eric Levenson, Brian Todd and Sara Smart contributed to this report.

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