On Tuesday, following a high school graduation ceremony at Virginia Commonwealth University, a tragic shooting occurred, claiming the lives of an 18-year-old recent graduate and his father, as reported by Richmond police.
Tameeka Jackson-Smith identified her son, Shawn Jackson, and her husband, Renzo Smith, 36, as the victims. The shooting also left five others injured. Local organization United Communities Against Crime released the names of the deceased on behalf of the family.
During a news conference, Richmond’s interim police chief, Rick Edwards, announced that one of the two individuals initially apprehended, a 19-year-old man, was suspected of being involved in the shooting. The second person taken into custody was found to be unconnected to the incident.
The suspect, who has yet to be publicly identified, is facing two charges of second-degree murder. Authorities believe the suspect had a prior acquaintance with at least one of the victims. As of early Wednesday, the police had not released the names of the victims.
The injured individuals, all males ranging in age from 14 to 58, were receiving medical treatment. One of them, a 31-year-old, sustained life-threatening injuries, while the others were believed to have non-life-threatening injuries.
Additionally, nine people received treatment for anxiety and minor injuries, and two individuals sought medical attention for falls. A 9-year-old child, who was struck by a vehicle, was treated at the scene, released, and later taken to a hospital.
Mayor Levar M. Stoney expressed his distress over the incident, particularly because it involved children on their graduation day. The shooting occurred at Monroe Park, an open space on the university campus, at approximately 5:13 p.m. Authorities recovered four firearms in connection with the incident.
Five gunshot victims were transported to the hospital, while two others made their way to the hospital on their own. Huguenot High School’s graduation was scheduled to take place at the adjacent Altria Theater at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, according to the school’s website.
Richmond Public Schools issued a notice stating that the shooting occurred in the park after the graduation ceremony, leading to the closure of all district schools on Wednesday and the cancellation of all high school graduations for the week.
During a news conference, Superintendent Jason Kamras, visibly emotional and dressed in a black graduation robe, expressed his anguish. He emphasized that graduation day should be a joyful occasion, but instead, tragedy struck just as the graduates were leaving the ceremony to reunite with their families and friends.
Kamras conveyed his frustration with the ongoing violence and pleaded with the entire community to cease such acts, as they have a profound impact on the students, teachers, and families. He earnestly implored everyone to put an end to the violence.
Initially, Virginia Commonwealth University described the shooting as an “active threat” on campus, but later confirmed in a campus alert that there was no ongoing danger to the community, although a significant police presence remained at Monroe Park.
Virginia Commonwealth President Michael Rao expressed his heartache and shock over the incident, emphasizing that graduations should be occasions filled with happiness and celebration.