Police said the shooting was not an accident; Detectives are working to determine where the child got the gun.
A six-year-old college student shot and injured a teacher in Virginia during an altercation in a first-grade classroom, according to police and school officials in the City of Newport News.
No students were injured in Friday’s shooting at Richneck Elementary School, police said. The teacher – a woman in her thirties – suffered life-threatening injuries.
Newport News Police Chief Steve Drew told reporters her condition had improved somewhat by late afternoon.
Police said the child had a gun in the classroom and they took that student into custody.
“We didn’t have a situation where someone was going to shoot around the school,” Drew told reporters. “We have a situation in a certain location where a shot was fired.”
The shooting was not an accident, he said.
Detectives tried to find out where the child got the gun.
The police chief did not specifically comment on whether authorities had contact with the boy’s parents, but said members of the precinct were handling that investigation.
“We have been in touch with our Commonwealth’s attorney [local prosecutor] and some other entities to help us best serve this young man,” Drew said.
The police chief gave no further details about the shooting, the altercation or what happened at the school.
Parents and students were reunited at the door of a gymnasium, Newport News Public Schools said on Facebook.
Newport News is a city of about 185,000 in southeastern Virginia known for its shipyard, which builds the nation’s aircraft carriers and other U.S. Navy vessels.
Richneck has about 550 students in kindergarten through fifth grade (10-11 years old), according to the Virginia Department of Education website.
Virginia law does not allow six-year-olds to be tried as adults. In addition, a six-year-old is too young to be taken into custody by the Department of Juvenile Justice if found guilty.
However, a juvenile judge would have the power to revoke a parent’s authority and place a child under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Social Affairs.
A school shooting involving a six-year-old is extremely rare, says James Alan Fox, a criminologist at Northeastern University in Boston.
Fox, who analyzed school shooting data sets dating back to 1970 from the Center for Homeland Defense and Security, said the data was a list of school shootings involving children ages seven, eight, nine and older, but not six-year-olds .
Another factor notable about the Virginia shooting is that it took place in a classroom, Fox said. Many take place outside a school building where students are unsupervised.
In 2000, a six-year-old boy fired a bullet from a .32-caliber rifle at Buell Elementary near Flint, Michigan, hitting another six-year-old, Kayla Rolland, in the neck, according to an AP article of the time. She died half an hour later.