During a high school graduation ceremony near Virginia Commonwealth University in downtown Richmond, a 19-year-old suspect reportedly shot seven people, resulting in the deaths of two individuals, according to Interim Richmond Police Chief Rick Edwards. The incident unfolded on Tuesday, prompting chaos and panic among attendees.
The suspect attempted to flee the scene but was apprehended by authorities. Chief Edwards confirmed that the suspect will face charges of two counts of second-degree murder. Five others sustained gunshot wounds outside the Altria Theater in Virginia’s capital, while an additional 12 individuals were treated for injuries or anxiety-related symptoms caused by the mayhem.
Chief Edwards described the immediate aftermath as chaotic, with hundreds of people scattered in Monroe Park upon hearing the gunfire. The identities of the victims were not disclosed, but the police believe that the suspect was acquainted with at least one of them.
Expressing grief and frustration, Chief Edwards emphasized that the graduation ceremony should have been a safe and celebratory environment. He called the incident a tragic act that inflicted terror on the community.
The injured were taken to VCU Medical Center, with their conditions ranging from serious to critical, according to VCU Health System spokesperson Mary Kate Brogan. Police recovered multiple handguns at the scene.
Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney vowed to ensure that those responsible for the shooting face justice, asserting that such incidents should not occur anywhere. Officers stationed inside the theater, where the graduation ceremony for Huguenot High School was taking place, immediately alerted their colleagues outside upon hearing the gunfire.
Richmond Public Schools confirmed that the shooting occurred after the graduation ceremony in Monroe Park, near VCU’s campus. As a precaution, all schools in the district will be closed the following day.
The motive behind the shooting and whether any students were among the injured remains unclear. Governor Glenn Youngkin expressed concern about the incident on Twitter and stated that state law enforcement fully supports the ongoing investigation by the Richmond Police Department.
VCU issued an alert to its community, urging caution and informing them of the police response to the shooting. State police also issued an alert advising people to avoid the area.
In light of the tragedy, a separate graduation ceremony scheduled for later in the day was canceled as a precautionary measure, as stated on the Richmond Public Schools website.