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VERIFY: Can a 6-year-old be sent to a juvenile detention facility in Virginia?

Teacher Abby Zwerner was reportedly giving a lesson when the child stood up, took out a gun and shot her.

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — A 6-year-old boy is accused of shooting his first-grade teacher with no fight and no warning beforehand in Newport News, Virginia

Teacher Abby Zwerner was reportedly giving a lesson when the child stood up, took out a gun and shot her.

Newport News police Chief Steve Drew said the shooting was "not accidental" and that the boy used a 9mm handgun used by the boy was legally purchased by his mother and was in the family's home. He said the boy brought it to school in his backpack the day of the shooting. 

Zwerner remains in stable condition at an area hospital. 

The question now is what will happen to the 6-year-old suspect. This is a unique case for prosecutors.

Many would think the boy would be sent to a juvenile detention facility, but can a child that young be sent to such a place? Let's Verify. 


  • The Code of Virginia
  • Julie McConnell, a professor of Law at the University of Richmond

The Answer:

Virginia law prohibits officials from sending children younger than 11 years old to a juvenile detention facility.

That's because those facilities are not built for kids that young. 

McConnell says officials would not be able to guarantee the child's safety or appropriate care. 

If it is determined necessary for the boy to be separated from his parents, there are a few options.

Children under 11 years old can be sent to an approved foster home, a facility operated by a licensed child welfare agency or some other suitable place designated by the court. 

So, we can Verify no, a 6-year-old cannot be sent to a juvenile detention facility in Virginia. 

WATCH NEXT: 6-year-old child shoots teacher at Elementary School in Virginia

A Virginia teacher who was critically injured when she was shot by a 6-year-old student in Newport News is showing signs of improvement as authorities struggle to understand how a child so young could be involved in a school shooting, the city's mayor said Saturday.

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