Curtis Bethany, a councilman for the city, said Newport News was dealing with “unchartered” territory. “I’ve never heard of a 6-year-old going to school with a loaded gun.”
Incidents at schools involving a shooter so young are exceptionally rare.
David Riedman, who founded the K-12 School Shooting Database after the mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Fla., in 2018, has compiled data on every school shooting — anytime a firearm has been discharged on school property — dating back to 1970. He found 16 cases involving shooters under the age of 10.
Three of them involved 6-year-old children. Two of those were ruled accidental shootings: One in 2011 at an elementary school in Houston in which a student had a gun that went off, injuring three people; and another in Mississippi in 2021, when a first-grader shot a fellow student with a gun he had brought to school and was playing with. In the third case, which attracted national attention, a 6-year-old boy shot and killed a young girl as the teacher was lining up students in a hallway.
According to Mr. Riedman’s research, there has been only one shooting at a school that involved someone under 6 years old: a kindergartner, aged 5, shot a gun in the cafeteria of his school in Memphis, Tenn., in 2013. No one was injured.
The violent episode in Newport News underscored the persistent threat of gun violence at schools across the country. In May, a mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, left 19 children and two teachers dead. In September, another school shooting in Oakland, Calif., left six injured.
The president of the Virginia Education Association, Dr. James J. Fedderman, said in a statement that he was “saddened that we must respond to another school shooting here in Virginia.”
Becky Pringle, the president of the National Education Association, said: “We send all of our hopes for a full recovery to the educator injured in yet another horrific act of gun violence in our schools. But today we are again discussing the carnage of another school shooting. This will not stop until elected leaders take consequential action and stand up to the gun lobby to prevent gun violence in our communities and school.”