WASHINGTON — A six-year-old boy opened fire in an elementary school classroom in the eastern US state of Virginia on Friday, seriously injuring a teacher, police said.
No students were hurt in the incident at Richneck Elementary School in the coastal city of Newport News.
“The individual is a six-year-old student. He is right now in police custody,” local police chief Steve Drew told a news conference, adding that “this was not an accidental shooting.”
Drew said the student and teacher had known each other in a classroom setting.
He said the boy had a handgun in the classroom, and investigators were trying to figure out where he obtained it. The police chief did not provide further details about the shooting, the altercation or what happened inside the school.
Police said that the victim was a teacher in her 30s and her injuries were believed to be life-threatening.
The police chief did not specifically address questions about whether authorities were in touch with the boy’s parents, but said members of the police department were handling that investigation.
“We have been in contact with our commonwealth’s attorney [local prosecutor] and some other entities to help us best get services to this young man,” Drew said.
Newport News is a city of about 185,000 people in southeastern Virginia known for its shipyard, which builds the nation’s aircraft carriers and other US Navy vessels.
“I’m in shock, and I’m disheartened,” said the city’s superintendent of schools, George Parker.
“We need the community’s support to make sure that guns are not available to youth.”
Experts said a school shooting involving a 6-year-old is extremely rare, although not unheard of, while Virginia law limits the ways in which a child that age can be punished for such a crime.
School shootings plague the United States, 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 United States last year, about half of them murder cases, accidents and self-defense, and half of them suicides, according to the Gun Violence Archive database.