No charges likely against 6-year-old who shot Newport News teacher: Expert

Police said the child remains at a medical facility for treatment as they navigate the legal process.
Newport News teacher shot
Posted at 7:44 PM, Jan 09, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-12 12:28:33-05

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — Newport News Police Chief Steve Drew said the 6-year-old who shot a teacher at Richneck Elementary School on Friday is being held in a medical facility.

In the meantime, the News 3 Investigative Team is working to figure out how a case like this will be prosecuted. No charges have been filed yet.

Drew said police are working with the Commonwealth's Attorney’s Office and the Community Service Board in this highly unusual case.

Drew said more needs to be done in their investigation to determine if any charges will be filed.

Legal experts said charges would likely not be filed against the child but rather against a possible adult who may not have secured the gun used in the shooting, but that is all part of the investigation.

“I just can't imagine what a 6-year-old may have seen and known about guns to be able to do this,” said Legal Analyst Sonny Stallings.

Drew said the 6-year-old’s mother legally bought the gun in York County but investigators said Friday morning the boy put it in his backpack, brought it to school and shot his teacher.

“Handguns aren't necessarily easy to fire. He had to conceal it coming into the school so there's a lot of unknowns,” said Stallings.

Stallings has decades of experience in law. He has worked as a former prosecutor and currently works as a defense attorney. Stallings said a child of this age would not face charges.

“You can't form a criminal intent to maliciously wound someone which would be the charge and he's not competent at that age to understand the proceedings, so both of those things would have to be overcome, and it's just basically impossible with a 6-year-old,” said Stallings.

In Virginia, no child under the age of 11 is allowed to be put into a juvenile detention center. The chief said that the child is being treated at a medical facility after the Community Safety Board issued a temporary detention order.

So far, no charges have been filed against anyone in this case but they could be.

Right now police say they are doing follow-up interviews with the shooter, the other kids in the classroom, the teacher and many others.

Some of the biggest questions to answer are how did he access the gun at his house and how secure was it?

“All of these will play a factor and also what led up to the shooting, is there a problem in the school before, if there were problems with the parents, problems with the student,” said Dr. Eric Claville, News 3's Legal and Political Analyst.

The police investigation continues as the world remains shocked.

“How the hell did we get here? What are we lacking in our society that we would have a 6-year-old go shoot his teacher. Something's gone off the rails,” said Stallings.



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