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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Mother of 6-year-old who Shot Newport News Teacher Pleads Guilty to Gun Charges

(WYDaily file/Courtesy of Unsplash)
(WYDaily file/Courtesy of Unsplash)

NEWPORT NEWS — The mother of a six-year-old who shot and severely injured a first grade Richneck Elementary School teacher in January pleaded guilty Monday to illegally obtaining and possessing a firearm and making a false statement on a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) form to purchase the firearm.

“It is clear from this case that enforcement of our existing federal firearm laws is critical to ensuring public safety,” said Jessica D. Aber, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “Federal requirements for firearm ownership are not optional and exist to protect owners, their family members, and the communities where they live. Failing to abide by those requirements when purchasing or possessing a firearm can have far-reaching consequences.”

According to court documents, the six-year-old male used a Taurus Model PT111 G2A 9mm semiautomatic handgun in the Jan. 6 shooting. Agents from the ATF conducted a trace on the firearm, revealing it was purchased by Deja Nicole Taylor, 25, of Newport News, on July 19, 2022.

According to records, agents discovered narcotics packaging, narcotics paraphernalia, marijuana, marijuana edible packaging, a box of ammunition, and a black firearm barrel lock during a court-ordered search of Taylor’s home. Agents also searched the home of Taylor’s mother, where Taylor was residing at the time, finding approximately 24.5 grams of marijuana, marijuana edible packaging, and marijuana paraphernalia, according to officials. A search of Taylor’s phone also revealed numerous text messages illustrating the pervasive scope of her marijuana use.

A lockbox was not found in either of the residences, nor was a trigger lock or key to a trigger lock ever found, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia.

Officials added the investigation also uncovered a police report from the Williamsburg Police Department which stated Taylor was pulled over during a traffic stop in a vehicle with two other persons, including the child, on April 3, 2021.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia, the officer conducting the stop detected an overwhelming odor of marijuana and marijuana was in plain view inside the vehicle, including edibles on the seat next to the child. A backpack claimed by another person was found to contain numerous individually packaged marijuana rice treats, gummies containing THC, suspected crack cocaine, two large bags of marijuana, two packages of “BackpackBoyz” marijuana from California, suspected oxycodone pills, green plant material, a smoking device, and more edibles. Digital scales were also found. Taylor’s purse was searched, officials added, where marijuana edibles and three unknown white pills were also found.

Taylor denied all knowledge of drugs inside the vehicle, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

On July 19, 2022, when Taylor purchased the gun used in the shooting, she was required by law to complete the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Firearms Transaction Record, falsely stating on the form that she was not an illegal user of marijuana or other controlled substances, officials said.

On Monday, Taylor pleaded guilty to being an unlawful user of controlled substance in possession of a firearm and making a false statement during purchase of a firearm and is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 18. She faces a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison.

“The safety of our communities is one of my utmost concerns and our efforts will always reflect that. I want to be clear, anyone that is an unlawful user of or addicted to controlled substances such as marijuana are prohibited from possessing firearms and ammunition under federal law,” said ATF Washington Field Division Special Agent in Charge Craig B. Kailimai. “ATF will continue to collaborate with our local, state, and federal partners to ensure that people who violate this condition of firearm ownership are held accountable for their actions.”

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