An elementary school teacher who was shot and critically injured by a six-year-old pupil was trying to take the gun away from him.
Ms Zwerner has been praised for urging her students to run for their lives as she lay bleeding on the classroom floor, and her condition is now listed as stable in hospital.
“She was going to confiscate it, and that’s when he shot,” Brittaney Gregory, whose son was in the class, told The Washington Post.
She described the shooting as “very devastating” for the school, and added, “It’s sad that such a young child holds so much anger.”
The six-year-old student remains in police custody as investigators probe how they got hold of the weapon. Authorities have so far refused to say where the youngster is being held or if he will be charged with a crime.
Police said that they do not believe the shooting was an accident and the department is investigating how the youngster got hold of the weapon.
“The altercation was between a 6-year-old, the student who did have the firearm, and the teacher and then the round was fired,” said Newport News Police Chief Steve Drew on Friday. “This was not an accidental shooting.”
Officials say that the school will remain closed this week to give staff and pupils time to recover from the shocking incident.
“It is important that at this time we focus on the welfare of our Richneck students and staff,” said Newport News Public Schools Superintendent George Parker, III.
Over the weekend Ms Zwerner was identified as the teacher involved in the shooting by her alma mater James Madison University.
No other members of staff or students were injured in the shooting.
Mr Parker added that the school district was working with police to discover how the student was able to get the gun into a classroom.
“There are many concerns that we will need to unpack before we will be able to determine if any additional preventive measures would have impacted the probability of this incident occurring,” said Mr Parker.