Former assistant principal charged with child abuse in case of 6-year-old shooter

Posted at 4:32 PM, April 10, 2024 and last updated 3:08 PM, April 12, 2024

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (Scripps News Norfolk) — Former Richneck Elementary School Assistant Principal Ebony Parker has been charged with eight counts of felony child abuse and disregard for life in connection to a 6-year-old shooting his teacher, Abby Zwerner, in 2023.

According to court documents, the charges against Parker were filed on Mar. 11, and she is currently listed as a fugitive.

On Jan. 6, 2023, a first grader shot his teacher in the hand and chest in the middle of the school day.

WATCH: Full interview with Abby Zwerner 1 year after she was shot by her student


Zwerner is suing Newport News Public Schools for $40 million over claims of negligence by school administrators, and Parker was named directly in the suit.

The lawsuit says that Zwerner and multiple other staff members at Richneck Elementary warned staff on the day of the shooting about the child’s behavior, including Parker.

The lawsuit alleges Parker ignored several warnings that the shooter, who had violently attacked students at the school and tried to choke a teacher, had a weapon the day of the shooting.

Parker would not allow the boy to be searched, insisting “his pockets were too small to hold a handgun,” according to the lawsuit.

Parker resigned shortly after the lawsuit was announced.

In response to the charges, Zwerner’s attorneys—Diane Toscano, Kevin Biniazan and Jeffrey Breit—sent this statement to Scripps News Norfolk:

“These charges are very serious and underscore the failure of the school district to act to prevent the tragic shooting of Abby Zwerner. The school board continues to deny their responsibility to Abby, and this indictment is just another brick in the wall of mounting failures and gross negligence in their case.”

Additionally, Scripps News Norfolk reached out to the Newport News School Board attorneys for comment about the charges against Parker. They said they had no comment since she was represented by a separate council.

They did, however, send this statement on behalf of the NNPS Board and former Superintendent Dr. George Parker for their pleas of sovereign immunity filed Tuesday:

“The law of sovereign immunity in Virginia makes the school board of Newport News immune from tort actions as well as certain of its high-level employees. We have today filed pleas of sovereign immunity and motions to dismiss the School Board and former superintendent Dr. George Parker. A motion to dismiss on sovereign immunity can by law be filed at any time. The reason they were not previously filed is that the plea in bar on worker’s compensation would have disposed of the entire case. Because of the Court of Appeals declining to take the interlocutory appeal, we felt now was the time to file these motions on behalf of these defendants. Meanwhile, we’re also asking the Supreme Court of Virginia to hear the interlocutory appeal and a petition to that effect has likewise been filed today.”


This story was originally written by Heather Eckstine of Scripps News Norfolk, an E.W. Scripps Company.