The mother of the 6-year-old Virginia boy who reportedly shot his first-grade teacher is attributing his actions to an ADHD diagnosis while at the same time taking responsibility for the shooting, according to Good Morning America.
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Mom Of 6-Year-Old Boy Links His Actions To ADHD Diagnosis
Deja Taylor, now facing six years in prison for her son’s non-fatal shooting of Abby Zwerner, said that as the child’s parent, she is taking responsibility for his actions because he can’t do so for himself.
“I am, as a parent, obviously willing to take responsibility for him because he can’t take responsibility [for himself].”
Taylor told the outlet that her son is a “great kid” but “very energetic” due to his condition.
“He’s off the wall. Doesn’t sit still, ever.”
She said her son has not yet spoken about what happened that day.
Taylor’s grandfather, Calvin Taylor, who has legal custody of the boy, revealed that he had recently started medication for ADHD and “his behavior had changed [for the better] in the classroom” before the incident.
“He had started medication and he was meeting his goals, academically. He was more attentive, he tried to follow along, he tried to do the coursework. But in all fairness to the other kids in the class, sometimes it was just too much for him.”
Taylor typically accompanied her son in class to assist with ongoing behavioral issues. However, she told GMA that she was not in the classroom the week of the shooting.
She added that the school made this change due to her son’s academic progress.
Mom Deja Taylor’s Attorney Blames School Officials, Claims They Knew Of ADHD Diagnosis
Meanwhile, James Ellenson, Taylor’s attorney, similarly acknowledged the boy’s ADHD diagnosis.
He added that the final responsibility for the shooting is on school officials, who he blamed for prematurely enrolling the child in first grade. He said they knew the boy had previously only attended two months of kindergarten and two months of pre-K.
The attorney also claims school officials knew of his ADHD diagnosis and argued the boy should have been “put back in kindergarten, possibly even pre-K.”
“If they believed all of these behaviors to be true, then they should not have allowed him to advance to a higher level… They should’ve put him back into kindergarten, possibly even pre-K, but at the minimum to kindergarten.”
Additionally, the lawyer added that the Newport News elementary school was aware of the child’s past behavior before enrolling him there as a student.
Deja Taylor Has Not Detailed How Her Son Gained Access To The Firearm
During the interview, Taylor and her attorney kept things brief regarding how the 6-year-old obtained access to the firearm used in the shooting of his teacher.
When asked how the child took the gun into his possession, the attorney responded, “No one knows.”
He further explained.
“I don’t know that any adult knows exactly how he got the gun.
When asked if the gun was “locked somewhere,” Taylor responded by nodding her head yes.
According to the outlet, the weapon was “legally purchased” by the mother.
"I am, as a parent, obviously willing to take responsibility for him because he can't take responsibility for his self."
— Good Morning America (@GMA) May 10, 2023
Boy’s Mom Faces Six Years In Prison After Felony Charges Of Child Neglect, Teacher Sues School
The American Psychiatric Association describes attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) as one of the most common mental disorders affecting children.
Symptoms of ADHD include inattention (not being able to keep focus), hyperactivity (excess movement that is not fitting to the setting), and impulsivity, according to the association.
Taylor has been charged with a felony count of child neglect and a misdemeanor count of recklessly leaving a firearm to endanger a child. A bench trial is set for Aug. 15, Good Morning America reports.
Zwerner, who survived getting shot in the chest, required four surgeries and spent almost two weeks at the hospital following the shooting.
She reportedly suffered permanent bodily injuries, physical pain, mental anguish, lost earnings, and other damages. She is suing Virginia school officials for $40 million in compensatory damages, as previously reported by The Shade Room.