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Mother of boy who shot Virginia teacher said her son had felt ‘ignored’


Left: Deja Taylor (via ABC News screengrab). Right: Abigail Zwerner ( Abigail Zwerner (via GoFundMe screengrab).

The mother of the 6-year-old boy who shot his first grade teacher in January says that her son’s actions may have been the result of him feeling “ignored.”

In an interview with ABC News, Deja Taylor discussed the Jan. 6 shooting of her son’s teacher Abigail Zwerner, who suffered serious injuries after being shot in the hand and chest. According to her lawyers, she has undergone multiple surgeries.

Taylor, 25, has been charged with felony child neglect and misdemeanor recklessness for allegedly leaving the firearm accessible to the child in connection with the shooting.

She told ABC News that her son’s actions are the result of his ADHD diagnosis, describing him as a “great kid” but “very energetic.”

“He’s off the wall,” she said. “Doesn’t sit still, ever.”

Taylor’s son was subject to a specialized education plan that required one of his parents to attend school with him. The day of the shooting was the first day that the boy was not accompanied by one of his parents, and it came the day after he was suspended for allegedly throwing a cellphone to the ground.

In the interview, Taylor also said her son “actually really liked” his teacher but that “he felt like he was being ignored” in the days leading up to the shooting.

Taylor said that the cellphone incident was an accident that happened after Zwerner told the boy to sit down when he was asking her a question.

“You know, most children, when they are trying to talk to you, and if you easily just brush them off, or you ask them to sit down, or you’re dealing with something else and you ask them to go and sit down, at 6 [years old] you — in your mind would believe that, ‘Somebody’s not listening to me,’ and you have a tantrum,” Taylor told ABC News. “He threw his arms up. He said, ‘Fine.’ And when he threw his arms up, he knocked her phone out of her hand on accident.”

Taylor said only the screen protector had broken and she had offered to pay to replace it.

Taylor’s lawyer James Ellenson said that people have talked to the boy to find out how he got the gun, but have not received an answer.

“I don’t know that any adult knows how he got the gun,” Ellenson said.

Taylor said that the last time she saw the gun, it was locked up.

When asked if she feels responsible for what happened to Zwerner, Taylor said that “of course” she does.

“That is my son, so I am, as a parent, obviously willing to take responsibility for him because he can’t take responsibility for himself,” Taylor said.

The boy’s mother apologized that Zwerner was hurt and that she felt that she had been building a good rapport with the teacher.

According to Virginia court records, Taylor’s trial is set for Aug. 15. Ellenson told ABC News that Taylor hopes to reach a plea deal on the charges.

Zwerner sued the Newport News School District in April, alleging negligence on the part of school administrators for ignoring warning signs that the boy had a gun with him at school that day. The school district said gun violence is a risk that all teachers reasonably face, and therefore Zwerner’s injuries are a worker’s comp issue and not one of negligence on the part of the school.

Zwerner’s attorney declined to comment on Taylor’s interview.

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