Virginia mom whose 6-year-old son allegedly shot teacher facing federal gun, drug charges

Deja Taylor, the Virginia mom of a 6-year-old boy accused of shooting his elementary school teacher back in January, is now facing federal drug and gun charges. 

Court documents filed Monday say Taylor bought a firearm from a gun shop in Grafton, Virginia in late July 2022 while “knowing that she was an unlawful user of a controlled substance.” 

The documents say Taylor made a false written statement when filling out paperwork for the gun purchase at Winfree Firearms. 

Taylor indicated she was not “‘an unlawful user of, or addicted to marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance’ … when in fact as she then knew, she was an unlawful user of marijuana,” the court documents say. 


Marijuana is legal in Virginia, but federal law requires prospective gun owners to disclose on documents whether they use federally illegal substances like marijuana. 

Fox News Digital has contacted Taylor’s attorney, Jimmy Ellenson, for comment on behalf of his client. In a statement to local outlets, Ellenson said Taylor planned to enter guilty pleas to the charges. 

“The information was an agreed procedure which eliminated the need for the government to take the case to a grand jury. Our action follows very constructive negotiations we had with federal authorities. The terms of the agreement, which we believe to be fair to all parties, will be disclosed when we enter the guilty plea. That should occur later this week or next,” Ellenson said. 

“We intend to present mitigating evidence that we trust the Court will view favorably at sentencing later this year following preparation of a pre-sentence report.”


Taylor’s 6-year-old shot and wounded his teacher, 25-year-old Abigail Zwerner, in Newport News, Va., on Jan. 6, 2023. 

Taylor was charged in April with felony neglect and reckless storage of a firearm. A trial date of Aug. 15 was set. Ellenson has said Taylor wants to reach a plea agreement with prosecutors.

The felony neglect charge is punishable by up to five years in prison. The misdemeanor charge of recklessly storing a firearm is punishable by up to one year in jail. The boy will not be prosecuted.

Zwerner was shot in the hand and chest as she sat at a reading table in her first-grade classroom at Richneck Elementary. She spent nearly two weeks in the hospital, has had four surgeries and later told NBC she sometimes “can’t get up out of bed.”

Zwerner filed a $40 million lawsuit that accuses school officials of gross negligence and of ignoring multiple warnings the day of the shooting. Zwerner’s attorneys say school officials knew the boy “had a history of random violence” at school and at home, including an episode the year before when he “strangled and choked” his kindergarten teacher. The boy was sent to another school, but allowed his return for first grade this school year, Zwerner’s lawsuit states.

The Newport News School Board argues her injuries fall under the state’s workers compensation act and cannot be addressed through her suit. The board pushed back against Zwerner’s claims that the child should not have remained in her class, saying he was in the process of being evaluated and treated for possible ADHD — which causes inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity. Even if he had been found in need of additional services, state and federal laws would have applied “for the purpose of keeping such children in the classroom with their peers when possible.” 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 



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