The Virginia school district, where a 6-year-old allegedly deliberately shot a teacher on Friday, has experienced gun violence on district property three times in the past 17 months.
Before Friday’s incident at Richneck Elementary School, where police say a 6-year-old boy seriously injured a teacher when he opened fire in a classroom, there were shootings at two other schools within the Newport News Public Schools system that affected the community. shocked.
Newport News Public Schools is made up of 26,500 students and includes three early childhood centers, 24 elementary schools, seven middle schools and five high schools, according to the district’s website.
In September 2021, a 16-year-old fired several shots during lunch in a busy hallway inside Heritage High School, injuring two 17-year-olds, according to NBC affiliate WAVY.
The shooter was sentenced to 10 years in prison, according to the outlet.
Less than two months later in December, 18-year-old Demari Batten fatally shot 17-year-old Justice Dunham in the parking lot of Menchville High School after a football game against Woodside High School, also within the Newport News Public Schools system. according to WAVY.
Molly Hunter, whose three children attend an elementary school in the district, says Newport News Public Schools’ response to the violence has been inadequate.
“The district’s response has left parents like me feeling that the violence that is happening inside the schools is not being adequately addressed,” she told NBC News. “I believe the district is working hard – they’ve had a hard time staffing our schools. They seem stretched thin and the violence issues are out of control.”
Newport News Public Schools Superintendent George Parker III did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Hunter says she knows that solving the district’s gun violence problem is easier said than done, but actions like installing metal detectors, having enough staff, mental health counselors and stricter visitor policies in schools can all help.
“Sensible gun laws too! We just need a review of so many things,” Hunter said. “Parents like me are tired and scared, but also ready to fight for the safety of all our students.”
Hunter isn’t the only Newport News Public Schools parent who thinks metal detectors on campuses could help address the problem of gun violence. Hanan Daoud, who also has children within the school district, agrees.
“Sorry isn’t enough!” Daoud responded to the school district’s post about Friday’s shooting. “What is your plan to stop this drama? Put metal detectors in school!!!!”
At a Friday night press conference, Parker said, “We have metal detection capabilities in all of our schools.”
But he said the devices are not used all the time, but rather can be activated on a desired date based on a specific threat.
“If we have a perceived threat or problem, we conduct random metal detection on those days,” he said. “We can monitor individual classrooms, individual students, and students.”
The superintendent said the use of metal detectors could be stepped up, and district leaders will have that discussion.
Daoud told NBC News that she remembered feeling “paralyzed” after learning there had been a shooting in the school district on Friday.
“One of my friends called me to see how my kids were doing, I was shopping,” said Daoud. “I was terrified, got out of the store and called my husband to ask where the shooting was.”
The shooting did not take place at the school Daoud’s children attend, but was another traumatic incident that frightened both parents and students, she said.
Richneck Elementary School is closed Monday and Tuesday in response to the latest shooting.
Newport News Police Chief Steve Drew met with the teacher, a woman in her 30s, and her family Saturday morning, according to a statement released by police Saturday afternoon.
Both police and Riverside Regional Medical Center, where the woman was recovering, said Saturday she had stabilized since being taken to the facility.
“She has improved,” police said in the statement. “Due to the ongoing nature of the investigation, we will not be releasing any further information at this time.”
Briana Foster Newton, Richneck’s principal, said in a statement: “My heart aches for our school community. The tragic event that happened on Friday has a profound impact on all of us,” he said. “My thoughts and prayers remain with our teacher who was seriously injured, and our students and staff, who are dealing with the aftereffects of this tragedy.”
Newport News Mayor Phillip Jones called the shooting “a red flag for the country,” according to The The Bharat Express News.
“I do think there will be a nationwide discussion after this event about how to prevent things like this,” he told the outlet.
In a tweetVirginia Senator Mark Warner said he was “deeply troubled” by the shooting and was “monitoring the situation closely.”
“My thoughts go out to all the families and aid workers,” he wrote.
It is not clear at this time if the 6-year-old boy is still in custody or if he has a lawyer.
Officials have not yet commented on where the child might have obtained the weapon, which police described as a handgun.
The Newport News Commonwealth Attorney did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
This article was originally published on NBCNews.com