An 18-year-old who had just graduated and his father were killed in a shooting Tuesday after a high school graduation ceremony on the Virginia Commonwealth University campus, Richmond police said.
Tameeka Jackson-Smith told NBC News her son, Shawn Jackson and her husband, Renzo Smith, 36, were killed in the shooting, which left five others injured, according to police. United Communities Against Crime, a local organization, also shared the identities of the slain father and son on behalf of the family.
One of two people initially taken into custody, a 19-year-old man, was suspected in the shooting, Richmond’s interim police chief, Rick Edwards, said at a news conference. A second person who was taken into custody was uninvolved, he said.
The suspect, who has not been publicly identified, faces two counts of second-degree murder, Edwards said. Authorities believe the suspect knew at least one of the victims, he said.
Smith had been in attendance to watch his son graduate, Edwards said. Police had not yet publicly released the names of the victims as of early Wednesday.
The five injured victims — all male — are ages 14 to 58, he said.
One of them, who is 31 years old, was being treated for life-threatening injuries, and four had injuries not thought to be life-threatening, police said.
Nine more people were treated for anxiety and minor injuries and two people for falls, police said. A 9-year-old who was hit by a car was treated at the scene and released and later went to a hospital, police said.
Mayor Levar M. Stoney said: “Children were involved here, at a graduation. This is tragic but also traumatic. Because this is their graduation day.”
The shooting took place at Monroe Park, an open space on campus, at 5:13 p.m., authorities said. Four firearms were recovered, Edwards said.
Five people were taken to the hospital from the area with gunshot wounds, and two more gunshot victims self-transported to the hospital, police said.
Huguenot High School’s graduation was scheduled to be held at 4 p.m. Tuesday at the Altria Theater, adjacent to the park, according to the school’s website.
In a notice posted on its website, Richmond Public Schools said the shooting took place in the park after the graduation ceremony. It said that all district schools would be closed Wednesday and that all high school graduations this week have been canceled.
Speaking at the first news conference about the shooting, Superintendent Jason Kamras, wearing a black graduation robe, became emotional.
“This is supposed to be a joyous day when our kids walk the stage and get their diploma,” he said, describing how Tuesday’s graduates walked “out the doors into their families’ and friends’ arms, taking pictures. And then this tragedy occurred.”
Kamras seemed exasperated by the violence.
“I’m tired of seeing people get shot, our kids get shot, and I beg of the entire community to stop,” he said. “To just stop. Our kids can’t take it. Our teachers can’t take it. Our families can’t take it anymore. I beg of you to stop.”
Virginia Commonwealth initially said the shooting was part of an “active threat” on campus. School officials later said in a campus alert, “There is no ongoing threat to the community but there is a heavy police presence at Monroe Park.”
On Tuesday evening, Virginia Commonwealth President Michael Rao tweeted: “Graduations should be times of happiness and celebration. Today’s shooting is heart-wrenching and shocking.”