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5th grader at Va. school where 6-year-old shot teacher is removed after threatening to ‘pop bullets’

A student said in a text conversation among a group of fifth graders Saturday that they would “pop some bullets” and “tell someone to shoot up the class,” school officials said in a letter to parents.
Students return to Richneck Elementary in Newport News, Va., on Jan. 30 for the first time since a 6-year-old shot teacher Abby Zwerner three weeks previously.Billy Schuerman / The Virginian Pilot / TNS via Getty Images

Weeks after a 6-year-old shot and injured a teacher at Richneck Elementary School in Virginia last month, a fifth grade student has been removed after making a threat to “pop some bullets,” officials said Monday.

Karen Lynch, the administrator on special assignment at Richneck, said in a letter to parents Monday that the threat came to light in a text message among a group of fifth grade students Saturday.

"One of the students stated that they would 'pop some bullets' and tell someone to shoot up the class," Lynch wrote to parents.

One of the students reported it to a parent, who contacted a teacher, who went on to inform administrators. 

“I immediately contacted the student’s parent and excluded the student from school,” Lynch said. 

The student was not publicly identified. It's not clear for how long the student will be removed from the school.

Lynch said the student conduct and discipline office, as well as police, had been notified.

"A thorough investigation is underway with the police department. A threat assessment is also in progress," Lynch said. "Threats and safety concerns are always taken very seriously. Please rest assured that all protocols are being followed and this incident is being addressed accordingly."

She thanked the student and the parent for their "swift action" in flagging the potential threat.

School was closed for Presidents Day on Monday. Classes were to resume Tuesday.

The latest incident comes six weeks after a 6-year-old student shot first grade teacher Abigail Zwerner, hospitalizing her with serious hand and chest wounds. 

Zwerner is recovering.

On Jan. 25, Zwerner’s attorney, Diane Toscano, made a series of allegations that the administration at Richneck ignored multiple warnings, including at least three by teachers, that could have prevented the shooting.

No charges have been announced in the 6-year-old's case. Newport News Police Chief Steve Drew has said the boy’s mother legally purchased the 9 mm Taurus firearm used in the shooting. Whether the gun was secured at the home is being investigated, Drew has said.

The boy’s family said in a statement last month that the gun was “secured” when he took it from their home. It did not go into further detail.

Our family has always been committed to responsible gun ownership and keeping firearms out of the reach of children. The firearm our son accessed was secured,” said the statement, released by the family’s attorney.

The statement also said the boy “suffers from an acute disability and was under a care plan at the school that included his mother or father attending school with him and accompanying him to class every day.”