A six-year-old pupil is in custody after shooting his teacher at a school in Virginia, police have said.
The teacher, a woman in her 30s, was left with life-threatening injuries after the child fired a handgun at her following an argument during class at Richneck Elementary School in Newport News, Virginia.
After being taken to hospital, the police later said the woman’s had improved somewhat.
No students were injured in the incident, which occurred at around 2pm on Friday, with police tactical teams sent into the building where they found children cowering in their classrooms and took them to the gymnasium.
“This was not an accidental shooting,” police chief Steve Drew said. “I want to know where that firearm came from.”
He added: “We did not have a situation where someone was going around the school shooting.”
Phillip Jones, the mayor of Newport News, said: “Right now it’s still raw, but what I will tell you is there’s going to be a full after-action [report], not only internally from the city council with the school board and others, but we are going to ensure that we have the right steps and policies so that this doesn’t happen again.”
Newport News is a city of about 185,000 people in southeast Virginia known for its shipyard which builds aircraft carriers and other US Navy vessels.
George Parker, the school’s superintendent, said he was “shocked” and “disheartened” that the school was unable to keep guns out. “We need to keep guns out of the hands of our young people,” Parker said. “I cannot control access to weapons. My teachers cannot control access.”
Parker said that all school campuses are equipped for random metal detector searches, but they were not deployed at Richneck Elementary on Friday.
He added: “Today our students got a lesson in gun violence and what guns can do to disrupt, not only an educational environment, but also a family, a community.”