Alumni Sean Jackson, 18, and his stepfather Renzo Smith, 36, were killed in a post-high school graduation shooting Tuesday night in Richmond, Va., and five others were injured, police said Wednesday. . .
Suspect Amari Pollard, 19, was arrested Wednesday morning on two counts of second-degree murder and is being held without bail, interim police chief Rick Edwards said at a news conference. Mr. Pollard continued to argue with the 18-year-old victim, which Edwards said was a targeted attack. Further charges are pending, he added.
A 9-year-old girl who was hit by a car and injured in the chaos after the shooting is also linked to the families of the two who died. Edwards said she is currently recovering from a very minor injury. All remaining victims are said to have non-life-threatening injuries.
The shooter opened fire in Monroe Park, where hundreds of alumni and guests were gathered across from the Altria Theatre, where Huguenot High School held its ceremony.
“I didn’t know Sean, but I shook his hand and congratulated him about 20 minutes before he died,” Richmond Public Schools Superintendent Jason Kamrath said Wednesday. “I can’t shake the image of him on the ground receiving CPR in his graduation gown.”
The shooting was one of at least 279 mass shootings in the United States so far this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive, which said at least four people, excluding the shooter, were killed. Defined as a shooting incident.
The riots have forced Richmond to join communities across the United States in confronting the horrors of shootings in recent months, including a shopping mall in Texas, a school in Tennessee, a bank in Kentucky, and a shooting near a beach in South Florida. Added to the list.
“This should have been a safe place,” Edwards said Tuesday night. “It is incredibly tragic that someone decided to bring a gun into this incident and rain terror on our community.”
Edwards said the shooting occurred just before 5:15 p.m., when three off-duty police officers guarding the ceremony heard the gunshot and radioed it, while police officers working nearby were on duty. responded.
Richmond Police Department
Reserved photo of suspect Amari Pollard.
“Initial officers suggested there was a shooting, but it was quickly over,” he added.
Edwards said the suspect fled on foot, but was found by security guards at nearby Virginia Commonwealth University and taken into custody nearby. Monroe Park is part of VCU’s Monroe Park campus.
Police initially said they had detained two people, but later said one of them was not involved in the shooting.
It is not clear how many weapons were used in the shooting.
Edwards said police seized four handguns from the scene on Tuesday night. He said Wednesday morning that the suspect had one gun, but other guns were recovered from the scene.
“I think there was an exchange, but it looks like the suspect went to his car to get the gun and came back,” he told reporters.
“Given his age, he could not have bought himself a handgun,” he added. He answered reporters’ questions.
Parker Michels Boyce/Washington Post/Getty Images
The shooting took place in a park across from the theater where the graduation ceremony was held.
Edwards said there was chaos after the shooting.
“I heard a call over the radio. I heard confusion and screaming,” he said.
“People were having panic attacks, falling to the ground and screaming,” Edwards added. “Some people fell. A child was hit by a car.”
Jonathan Young, a member of the Richmond City Board of Education, described the confusion immediately after the shooting in a video posted by CNN affiliate WWBT.
“I heard about 20 gunshots in rapid succession as I was leaving the building,” Young said. “The truth is that our people tolerate the unbearable.”
Naomi Wade told CNN affiliate WTVR she was selling flowers and teddy bears for alumni outside the Altria Theater. A photo of smiling graduates in caps and gowns turned into a scene of panic when gunshots were heard, he said.
“Everyone literally started running for their lives, stamping on each other. Trampled on me. Trampled on our entire stand. It was scary,” Wade said.
Richmond Mayor Lever Stoney condemned Tuesday’s shootings and promised that anyone involved would be brought to justice.
“Is nothing sacred anymore?” Stoney said at a press conference.
“Things like this shouldn’t happen anywhere. Children should be able to attend graduation, walk through graduation and enjoy their achievements with friends and family,” Stoney said. .
A police vehicle was seen Tuesday in a park where a man with a gun opened fire in Richmond, Virginia.
Superintendent Camras noted that Jackson wasn’t the only student shot dead in the Richmond Public School District in the past 24 hours.
“Three Armstrong students were injured last night in two different incidents. This alone should stop,” he said.
He called on state and federal officials to help combat the violence.
The Huguenot High School ceremony is Richmond High School’s second graduation ceremony at the theater on Tuesday, and a third graduation ceremony scheduled for the same day at the theater was canceled following the shooting, school officials said. . Richmond Public Schools announced on its website that out of caution, all schools will be closed on Wednesday.
Graduation ceremonies for the remaining high schools in the district this week have also been cancelled.
“We have been preparing for an event like this. . “But it came to Richmond.”