Virginia mother whose 6-year-old son allegedly shot teacher

Harris Marley
Harris Marley

Global Courant

Deja Taylor, the Virginia mother of a 6-year-old boy who was accused of shooting his elementary school teacher in January, now faces federal drug and weapons charges.

Court documents filed Monday show that in late July 2022, Taylor purchased a firearm from a gun store in Grafton, Virginia, while “lawing that she was an unlawful user of a controlled substance.”

FILE: Deja Taylor arrives with attorney James Ellenson, left, at the Newport News Sheriffs Office in Newport News, Virginia, on April 13, 2023, to turn herself in. (Billy Schuerman/Daily Press/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

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According to the documents, Taylor made a false statement in writing when filling out the paperwork for the gun purchase from Winfree Firearms.

Taylor indicated that she was not “‘an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotics, or any other controlled substance’ … when in fact, as she knew at the time, she was an unlawful user of marijuana,” the court documents say.


Marijuana is legal in Virginia, but federal law requires potential gun owners to disclose on records whether they use federally illegal substances such as marijuana.

Fox News Digital has reached out to Taylor’s attorney, Jimmy Ellenson, for comment on behalf of his client. In a statement to local outlets, Ellenson said Taylor intended to plead guilty to the charges.

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Police watch as students return to Richneck Elementary in Newport News, Virginia on January 30, 2023. (Billy Schuerman/The Virginian-Pilot via AP, File)

“The information was an agreed-upon procedure that eliminated the need for the government to take the case to a grand jury. Our action follows very constructive negotiations we have had with federal authorities. The terms of the agreement, which we believe are fair for all parties, will be revealed when we file the IOU. That should happen later this week or next week,” Ellenson said.

“We intend to present mitigating evidence that we trust will lead the court to rule favorably on the sentencing later this year after preparing a pre-sentencing report.”

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Taylor’s 6-year-old shot and injured his teacher, 25-year-old Abigail Zwerner, in Newport News, Virginia, on Jan. 6, 2023.

Taylor was charged in April with felony neglect and reckless storage of a firearm. A trial date of August 15 was set. Ellenson has said Taylor wants to enter into a plea deal with prosecutors.

Misdemeanor neglect carries a prison sentence of up to five years. Reckless storage of a firearm carries a prison sentence of up to one year. The boy is not being prosecuted.

Abby Zwerner was shot in the abdomen on January 6 by a 6-year-old student who brought a gun to school. (Facebook/Abby Zwerner)

Zwerner was shot in the hand and chest as she sat at a reading desk in her first grade classroom at Richneck Elementary. She was in the hospital for nearly two weeks, had four surgeries, and later told NBC that sometimes she “can’t get out of bed.”

Zwerner has filed a $40 million lawsuit accusing school officials of gross negligence and ignoring multiple warnings on the day of the shooting. Zwerner’s lawyers say school officials knew the boy had “a history of random violence” at school and at home, including an episode the year before when he “strangled and strangled” his kindergarten teacher. The boy was sent to another school, but was allowed to return to first grade this school year, according to Zwerner’s lawsuit.


The Newport News School Board claims her injuries are covered by the state’s workers’ compensation law and cannot be addressed through her lawsuit. The board countered Zwerner’s claims that the child should not have been allowed to stay in her class, saying he was undergoing evaluation and treatment for possible ADHD – which causes inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity. Even if he was found to require additional services, state and federal laws would have applied “to keep such children in the classroom with their peers whenever possible.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Bradford Betz is a Fox News Digital breaking reporter covering crime, political issues and much more.

Virginia mother whose 6-year-old son allegedly shot teacher

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