Virginia Teacher Shot By Student Says She'll 'Never Forget The Look On His Face'

The Virginia teacher shot by a 6-year-old student spoke out publicly for the first time this week and described the moment she thought she was dying.

In an interview with the “Today” show that aired Tuesday, first grade teacher Abigail Zwerner described the haunting seconds before her student shot her in January.

“There’s some things that I’ll never forget. And I just will never forget the look on his face that he gave me while he pointed the gun directly at me,” she said of the incident at Richneck Elementary School in Newport News, Virginia. “That’s something that I will never forget. It’s changed me. It’s changed my life.”

Zwerner told “Today” co-anchor Savannah Guthrie that she’s since learned she likely only survived the shooting because she held her hand up to the child, meaning the bullet traveled through her hand before hitting her in the chest.

What happened next is still a “blur,” Zwerner said, but she remembers shuttling her children out of the classroom and making her way to a school office as she began to lose consciousness, not knowing that her lung had collapsed and she was becoming unable to breathe.

“I remember I went to the office and I just passed out,” she said. “I thought I had died.”

The circumstances around the shooting gained national attention, with gun control advocates pointing to several failures leading up to Zwerner’s near death. Police have confirmed the gun the child used belonged to his mother, who obtained it legally. It’s not clear how the boy gained access to the gun, but Virginia has no laws requiring firearms to be stored in a specific way. His parents have said the gun was secured.

Several teachers also raised concerns about the child’s destructive behavior with school administrators, and warned he might have had a gun on him that day, but the school failed to locate and take it from him.

Zwerner’s attorney, Diane Toscano, told “Today” she plans to file a lawsuit on behalf of her client in the coming weeks.

“I can tell you there were failures on multiple levels in this case, and there were adults that were in positions of authority that could have prevented this tragedy from happening and did not,” Toscano said.

Newport News’ prosecutor said earlier this month that he will not press charges against the child.

The boy’s parents have spoken out in support of Zwerner and praised how she handled the situation.

“Our heart goes out to our son’s teacher and we pray for her healing in the aftermath of such an unimaginable tragedy as she selflessly served our son and the children in the school,” the parents said in January.