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Virginia graduation shooting that killed teen, stepdad fueled by "ongoing dispute," police say

Virginia graduation shooting victims identified
Son and stepfather among victims of Virginia graduation shooting 01:53

Two people were killed and five others wounded on Tuesday during a shooting outside a high school graduation ceremony in Richmond, Virginia, police said. 

The victims have been identified as 18-year-old Shawn Jackson and his 36-year-old stepfather Renzo Smith of Chesterfield County, Richmond, Acting Chief of Police Rick Edwards said in a news conference on Wednesday. They were transported to a local hospital where they died on Tuesday night, police said.

The victims have been identified as 18-year-old Shawn Jackson and his 36-year-old stepfather Renzo Smith. United Communities Against Crime

The teen was set to graduate from Huguenot High School on Tuesday.

Amari Pollard, 19, of Henrico County, was charged with two counts of second-degree murder for the shootings, Edwards said. He was arraigned on Wednesday morning and is being held without bond in the Richmond City jail, according to online records.

Edwards said that Pollard and Jackson knew each other and had "an ongoing dispute." 

Five males, ages 14, 31, 32, 55 and 58, had injuries that were not considered life-threatening, police said.

At an earlier news conference, Edwards had said two suspects were in custody, but on Tuesday night he clarified that one of the two people detained was not believed to be involved in the shooting. 

The graduation ceremony Tuesday at the Altria Theater, located in Monroe Park on the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University, was abruptly canceled after shots rang out shortly after 5 p.m., Edwards said.

Off-duty officers working security inside the ceremony immediately responded to the scene and found the shooting victims, Edwards said. Virginia Commonwealth University security detained the suspect after he left the scene, Edwards said. 

No police officers were injured or fired their weapons during the incident, Edwards said.

A number of people were treated for different injuries, including two people from falls, a 9-year-old girl who was hit by a car during the shooting, and three people who were treated for anxiety, Edwards said. The girl was treated at the scene before being taken to a local hospital with injuries that were not considered life-threatening, Edwards said.

A Richmond Public Schools spokesperson said the graduation ceremony would be rescheduled.

"This incident occurred toward the end of the Huguenot High School graduation and we have canceled the Thomas Jefferson High School graduation scheduled for later tonight. It will be rescheduled soon," the spokesperson said. Superintendent of Richmond Public Schools Jason Kamras said at the Wednesday news conference, "I can't shake the image of him receiving CPR... still in his graduation gown."

Graduation shooting in Richmond
Several people were injured in a shooting outside of the Altria Theatre after the Huguenot High School graduation ceremony in Richmond, Va., June 6, 2023. Parker Michels-Boyce/The Washington Post via Getty Images

U.S. Rep. Jennifer McClellan, who represents Virginia's fourth congressional district, which includes Richmond, said in a statement, "Tonight's celebration turned into every parent's worst nightmare. As the mother of two school-aged children, I cannot fathom the profound heartbreak, sense of loss and trauma these families are experiencing."

"The gun violence epidemic is a public health crisis that we must address. We cannot continue to live in fear," McClellan added. 

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