Two people were shot dead and several more were injured in a shooting Tuesday night outside a high school graduation ceremony in Richmond, Virginia, authorities said.
A 19-year-old male suspect was in police custody, Rick Edwards, acting chief of the Richmond Police Department, said at a news conference Tuesday night. « We think the suspect knew at least one of the victims, » he said.
The shooting occurred just before 5:15 pm outside the Altria Theater. He said officers inside the venue had heard shots and responded to the scene, where they had found « multiple victims suffering from gunshot wounds ».
The two people killed were an 18-year-old male and a 36-year-old male, Chief Edwards said at the news conference. Authorities have not released the identities of the victims.
Authorities seized four firearms, but one of them is « unrelated » to Tuesday’s shooting, Chief Edwards said.
Five others were shot and suffered non-life-threatening injuries, he said. Several other people, she said, had gone to local hospitals with injuries other than gunshots, including one person who was « hit by a car during the melee. »
Matthew Stanley, a spokesman for Richmond Public Schools, confirmed that the shooting occurred in Monroe Park, adjacent to the Altria Theater, immediately following a graduation ceremony for Huguenot High School students. Another ceremony scheduled for Tuesday evening has been cancelled.
Clips posted on social media appeared to show the aftermath of the shootings. In one, emergency medical workers appeared to be administering CPR to a victim. The students still wore their togas and caps. More signs were scattered on the ground.
Jonathan Young, a member of the Richmond City school board, said he and his colleagues had just finished celebrating some 300 graduating students when he heard about 20 consecutive gunshots that ‘resulted in a mad dash to get back into the school’. building ». Emergency medical workers and police officers were quickly at the scene, he said, adding that he saw many people who appeared to have been injured in what he described as a « stampede ». Mr Young said his shock quickly turned to « disgust and anger ».
A statement posted on the Richmond Public Schools website Tuesday night addressed families and staff members, saying that « following the Huguenot High School graduation ceremony, a shooting occurred outside in Monroe Park. » The message said that all public schools in the city will close on Wednesday as a precautionary measure.
« I’m just tired of seeing people get shot, » Jason Kamras, the superintendent of the Richmond Public Schools, said at the news conference. « Our children are being killed and I beg the whole community to stop. »
« Our children can’t stand it, » said Mr. Kamras. “Our teachers can’t stand it. Our families can’t take it anymore. Please stop.