A brand new Huguenot High School graduate and his stepfather were fatally shot when gunfire erupted at a graduation ceremony in Richmond, Va., police said.
The suspect, identified as 19-year-old Ameri Ty-John Pollard, watched the high school’s senior class receive their diplomas on Tuesday at Atria Theater. After the ceremony, Pollard allegedly retrieved a gun from his car and then made his way to the nearby Monroe Park, located at the heart of the Virginia Commonwealth University campus, where many graduates and their families had begun to congregate.
Richmond interim police Chief Rick Edwards said hundreds of people had streamed from the theater into the park by the time the shooter returned and then unleashed at least 8 rounds of gunfire.
Killed in the shooting were Huguenot High School graduate Shawn Jackson, 18, and his father, Renzo Smith, 36.
“I didn’t know Shawn, but I shook his hand and wished him congratulations about 20 minutes before he died,” Richmond Public Schools Superintendent Jason Kamras said during a Wednesday news conference. “Those who did know Shawn described him as bubbly and the life of the party.”
Edwards told reporters that Pollard and Jackson knew each other and had an “ongoing dispute.”
“This was targeted at one individual,” Edwards said, noting that authorities at this time do not believe the violence was gang-related.
Five people were also wounded in the shooting, including a 31-year-old who remained hospitalized on Wednesday with life-threatening injuries, WTVR reported. Four others — a 14-year-old male, a 32-year-old male, a 55-year-old male, and a 58-year-old male — suffered what were described as non-life-threatening injuries.
Another 12 were injured amid chaos caused by the fear and panic prompted by the shooting. Among those hurt was Jackson’s 9-year-old sister, who was struck by a car as she attempted to flee. She received treatment and has since been released from the hospital, according to WRIC.
Two people were also treated for falls and nine people were treated for anxiety and minor injuries at the scene, police said.
Pollard was arrested shortly after the shooting came to an end. Police said he stayed in the area and surrendered without further incident. He was arraigned Wednesday morning on two counts of second-degree murder and ordered held without bail. He’s due back in court on June 21.
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