NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — UPDATE: On Saturday afternoon, Newport News Police Chief Steve Drew said he had met with the victim and her family, and that she has improved and is currently listed in stable condition.
A teacher has life-threatening injuries after being shot by a 6-year-old student at Richneck Elementary School in Newport News Friday afternoon.
In a press conference Friday evening, city officials said the shooting was not accidental, that it happened in a first-grade classroom when a male student started arguing with a teacher and that the teacher's injuries were life-threatening. Everyone else in the school building -- faculty, staff, and students -- were safe.
The school was put on lockdown around 2 p.m. as police responded to reports of a shooting. Around 3 p.m., a spokesperson for Newport News police said there was no active shooter at the building on Tyner Drive. The school lockdown was lifted around 3:20 p.m., and officers were reuniting parents with their students at a reunification site.
In statements to media afterwards, Newport News Police Chief Steve Drew and other city officials shared the following:
- Police got to the school almost immediately.
- The suspect was taken into custody almost immediately.
- It wasn't a situation where a gunman was going around the school shooting; it was one scene and one shot fired.
- The way faculty and staff responded was heroic.
- Apart from the victim, everyone in the building was safe.
- The teacher was a woman in her thirties and is in critical condition at Riverside Regional Medical Center.
Drew said police officers were collecting evidence and processing the scene inside the school.
He said the most important thing after the fact was getting students back with their parents and getting counselors in touch with students, making sure they were safe and could process what happened.
Newport News's new mayor, Phillip Jones, and members of city council and the city's school board also came out to the scene at the elementary school Friday.
"It's a dark day for Newport News," Jones said to reporters. "We're going to learn from this and we're going to come back stronger."
Jones stressed that the city's response to the shooting was a unified effort across police, city and school staff.
"The police did an amazing job, got here very, very quickly, along with the sheriff's office," he said. "We are ensuring that everyone is safe, we are ensuring that everyone is accounted for, they're going to be in the cafeteria right now, and people are being escorted out to their parents."
Jones said he would be going to the hospital to visit with the victim's family.
Newport News School Superintendent Dr. George Parker, III said Richneck Elementary School will not hold classes on Monday.
“I'm in awe, I'm in shock and I'm disheartened,” Dr. Parker said. “Today, our students got a lesson in gun violence, and what guns can do to disrupt not only an educational environment but a family, a community."
Dr. Parker said the division's existing security measures include random metal detection. However, he believes a great deal of prevention happens at home and in the community.
"I cannot control access to weapons. My teachers cannot control access to weapons,” said Dr. Parker. “It comes on campus because of access in the community, and this is not a Newport News problem. It's a bigger, broader problem than what we're seeing today."
Nonetheless, Dr. Parker said administrators will review safety protocol, and whether they should make adjustments.
Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin tweeted about the shooting Friday night, saying he was monitoring the situation and praying for the students and community.
"My administration has offered assistance in response to the shooting at Richneck Elementary School in Newport News and stand at the ready to help in any way we can," he wrote.
Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Virginia) also said he was monitoring the situation closely, and praying for those involved.
If you know anything that could help, call the Newport News Police Department at 757-247-2500 or leave an anonymous tip with the Crime Line 1-888-LOCK-U-UP.