Richmond, VA – An 18-year-old graduating senior and his father were fatally shot and at least 11 other victims were injured when a gunman opened fire after the Huguenot High School graduation ceremony in Richmond on Tuesday evening.
The attack occurred outside the Altria Theater in Monroe Park on the Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) campus at approximately 5:13 p.m. on June 6, WTVR reported.
The venue is the site for Richmond Public Schools’ (RPS) graduation ceremonies.
The Huguenot High School commencement ceremony had just wrapped up and the Thomas Jefferson High School graduation event was about to begin, according to The Daily Progress.
Richmond Police Department (RPD) Interim Chief Rick Edwards said during a press conference at 7 p.m. on Tuesday that officers inside the building reported hearing gunfire outside, resulting in multiple officers on traffic detail responding to the scene, WTVR reported.
“It was obviously chaos,” Chief Edwards said later that night. “We had hundreds of people in Monroe Park. So, people scattered. It was very chaotic at the scene.”
High school seniors dressed in their graduation gowns ran from the building, as did the families and friends who came to witness the ceremony, according to The Daily Progress.
RPS School Board Member Johnathan Young witnessed the mayhem and said everyone appeared to be in shock.
“A lot of people… injured themselves in the melee, the stampede,” Young told The Daily Progress. “All running as fast as they can, no shoes, people tripping over themselves, falling on top of [one] another, crying and yelling.”
Chief Edwards said officers arrived to find “multiple victims” who had been shot outside the venue, WWBT reported.
Among them were 18-year-old Shawn Jackson and his 36-year-old father, Renzo Smith, both of whom were killed in the attack, WWBT reported.
Jackson was one of the seniors who had just graduated that evening, according to WTVR.
Five other victims were also shot, according to Chief Edwards.
A 31-year-old victim was listed in critical condition and remained hospitalized, WTVR reported.
Four other males, ages 14, 32, 55, and 58, suffered non-life threatening gunshot wounds, according to the police chief.
An additional six victims suffered injuries other than gunshot wounds, including a nine-year-old child who was hit by a car while trying to get to safety, WTVR reported.
The six injured victims are all expected to recover.
Police initially took two people into custody in the wake of the shooting, but only one was determined to be a suspect in the attack, WTVR reported.
Chief Edwards said the alleged gunman is a 19-year-old male who they believe knew at least one of the victims.
He allegedly had multiple firearms with him when he was apprehended, WTVR reported.
It is unclear whether he was a student at Huguenot High School.
His identity was not immediately released, nor was a motive.
Chief Edwards said the suspect will likely face two counts of second-degree murder, WTVR reported.
Additional charges are also expected.
“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,” the police chief said, according to WTVR. “We prepare for an event like this, and we prepared for it with our partners and hoped that this day wouldn’t come, but it came to Richmond today.”
RPS said the remaining high school graduations scheduled for this week have been canceled and will be rescheduled, WWBT reported.
The district also canceled classes at all of its schools for Wednesday out of “an abundance of caution,” according to a notification sent out to families.
BREAKING: A mass shooting has taken place outside of a Richmond, Virginia High School Graduation celebration.
– 7 shot outside the Altria Theater in Richmond, Virginia
– The shooting took place in Monroe Park after the Huguenot High School graduation
– 2 suspects… pic.twitter.com/HmpfPtaQRd
— Brian Krassenstein (@krassenstein) June 7, 2023
The Altria Theater is the site of the shooting. It was Huguenot High School's graduation. According to witnesses, there was trampling injuries after the shots were fired. pic.twitter.com/VpbO50wxQS
— Goad Gatsby (@GoadGatsby) June 6, 2023
— Tyler Englander (@TylerEnglander) June 6, 2023
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