A high school graduation turned deadly after a shooter opened fire on a crowd of graduates as they were exiting the ceremony.
On Tuesday, Huguenot High School in Richmond, Virginia held its graduation ceremony at Altria Theater. Just after 5 p.m., the graduates and their families were leaving the venue and taking graduation pictures outside the theater when shots rang out, sending people scrambling for cover.
In video footage that was taken in the moments before the shooting began, as well as the moments after, students are seen exiting the theater and greeting their families who are crowded around the theater entrance waiting to congratulate their graduates.
Suddenly, gunshots are heard as everyone rushes for cover.
Two people were shot and killed: Shawn Jackson, 18, and his father Renzo Smith, 36.
Jackson had just graduated.
According to law enforcement, at least five other people were injured in the shooting.
One 31-year-old man is in the hospital with life-threatening gunshot wounds.
Four shooting victims, a 14-year-old boy, a 32-year-old man, a 55-year-old man, and a 58-year-old man, did not suffer life-threatening injuries.
A nine-year-old was also injured in the chaos, getting hit by a car. They were taken to the hospital and are expected to survive their injuries.
Two people were taken into custody by police immediately following the shooting, but one was since released from custody.
The remaining suspect, a 19-year-old male, will likely be charged with two counts of 2nd-degree murder accompanied by additional charges, according to Intermin Richmond Police Chief Rick Edwards.
“We think the suspect knew at least one of the victims,” reported Edwards during a press briefing on Tuesday night.
Edwards condemned the actions of the shooter and offered his condolences to all who were affected by the senseless act of violence.
“I’d like to just express my concerns and sympathy for those who have lost their lives today, and those whose lives were forever changed,” said Edwards. “This should have been a safe space. This is incredibly tragic that someone brought a gun to this and rained terror on these people.”
Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney (D) also gave a statement about the tragedy, saying, “Children were involved here… this is their graduation day. The question that comes to my mind right now is, is nothing sacred any longer?”
“A child should be able to go to their graduation and walk out the graduation and enjoy the accomplishment with their friends and their families,” he added. “It’s a selfish act. It’s a senseless act. And to me, it’s cowardice.”
Lt. Governor Winsome Earle-Sears (R-Virginia) blamed the ongoing violence in Richmond’s communities for the city’s gun violence. She called for lawmakers to address the root of the issue rather than just blaming the guns.
“Even if you took all the guns off the street, from the law-abiding citizens, the others who mean harm, who mean to kill and mayhem, they’re going to have the guns,” said Earle-Sears. “So we have to figure out what’s going on in our communities. We have to find the right problem so that we can come to the right solution.”
Earle-Sears added that the criminal justice system needs to be tougher on criminals, asking, “When do we say enough is enough? When do we say that?”
“How many more people have to die before we say you’re going to jail? We’re going to lock you up and there’s not going to be any bail so that we can have safety in our communities. When does that happen? Who is in charge? Is that the mayor? Is that the chief? Who is that? Let’s start naming names.”