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Mother of Six-Year-Old Who Shot Teacher Charged With Federal Gun Crimes

The mother of a six-year-old boy who shot his teacher in Virginia earlier this year has been charged with federal gun crimes.

Deja Taylor, 26, is accused of illegally using drugs while in possession of a handgun and making a false statement while buying the gun.

She will plead guilty on both charges as part of an agreement with prosecutors, her lawyer said.

Ms Taylor was earlier charged with child neglect and endangerment.

Her son shot Abigail Zwerner, a teacher at Richneck Elementary School in the city of Newport News, on 6 January in her first-grade classroom.

Police have said the boy, who has not been named or charged, committed an intentional act and had taken his mother’s firearm to school in his rucksack.

Ms Zwerner, who was struck in the hand and upper chest, spent two weeks in hospital and has undergone surgery four times since the incident.

“I thought I had died,” she told NBC’s Today show in an interview in March. She has since sued school officials for $40m (£32m) alleging gross negligence.

According to documents filed in the US District Court in Newport News on Monday, Ms Taylor “knowingly made a false and fictitious written statement” on her federal background check form when she purchased the Taurus 9mm semi-automatic weapon from a local shop.

The form asks whether the buyer is “an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance”.

Ms Taylor is accused of checking “no” on that question despite being a cannabis user. Although the drug is legal for recreational use in several states, cannabis remains a controlled substance at the federal level and it is a federal felony to use it while armed.

James Ellenson, a lawyer for Ms Taylor, said his client would plead guilty later this week or early next week with the terms of her plea deal to be revealed at the hearing.

“The shooting that occurred… at Richneck Elementary School was a tragedy for all parties, most especially teacher Abby Zwerner for whom we wish a complete recovery,” he said.

If convicted on the two new charges, Ms Taylor could spend up to 25 years in prison.

She also faces up to six years behind bars on the pending state charges against her. A grand jury indicted Ms Taylor in April with a felony count of child neglect and a misdemeanour count of “allowing access to firearms by children”.

Source : BBC