Mother of Child Who Shot Teacher Convicted on Drug and Firearm Charge

Abigail Zwerner

Deja Taylor, the mother of a six-year-old boy who shot his teacher in Newport News, Virginia, has been sentenced to 21 months in prison on a drug charge related to the firearm used in the incident. The 26-year-old pleaded guilty in June to using cannabis while owning a firearm, a charge that led to her son bringing the gun to school and shooting teacher Abby Zwerner on January 6.

Investigators discovered about 1oz of cannabis in Taylor’s home following the shooting. In Virginia, it’s illegal to own a gun and be an active drug user. Judge Mark Davis sentenced Taylor, emphasizing the need for imprisonment in this case. Taylor, who wiped away tears during the sentencing, also faces a separate hearing on a state charge of felony child neglect in December.

At the hearing, Ms. Zwerner, who is suing for $40m, shared the physical and emotional impact of the shooting, including undergoing five surgeries for her hand and contending with emotional scars. Taylor’s attorneys had sought home confinement and probation, citing her need for mental health treatment and marijuana addiction therapy.

In June, Taylor admitted guilt in federal court to both using marijuana while owning a gun and lying about her drug use on a federal form. The rare federal charge has faced legal challenges for potentially infringing on constitutional rights to gun ownership.

The case has drawn attention to the complex interplay of gun ownership, drug use, and parental responsibility. Taylor’s son, now seven, reportedly accessed the firearm by climbing a drawer to reach his mother’s handbag. Taylor claimed to have secured the gun with a trigger lock, but investigators did not find such a measure.

This incident adds to the ongoing debate about gun safety and responsible ownership, particularly in households with children.

Lou Nightingale
Author: Lou Nightingale

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