Two people killed in shooting in Virginia after high school graduation ceremony

Police are investigating the scene - Reuters

Police are investigating the scene – Reuters

Two people were killed in a shooting outside a high school graduation ceremony in Virginia on Tuesday.

Five other people were injured by gunfire outside the Altria Theater and in an adjacent Richmond city park.

A 19-year-old suspect attempted to flee the scene but was arrested and will be charged with two counts of second-degree murder, police said.

Rick Edwards, Richmond’s acting police chief, said the two people who died were both men, aged 18 and 36. Their names have not been disclosed.

Police believe the suspect, who was not immediately identified, knew at least one of the victims.

‘When they heard the shots it was obviously chaos,’ Mr Edwards said. “We had hundreds of people in Monroe Park, so people spread out. It was very chaotic there.

Rick Edwards - The Richmond Times-Dispatch

Rick Edwards – The Richmond Times-Dispatch

Officers inside the theater, where the Huguenot High School graduation ceremony was taking place, heard gunshots around 5:15 p.m. local time and called police outside, Ms. .Edwards.

He added that two suspects were initially arrested, but it was later determined that one of them was not involved. Officers said multiple handguns were recovered from the scene.

School board member Jonathan Young said graduates and other attendees were exiting the building when they heard about 20 gunshots in quick succession.

“This prompted, predictably, hundreds of people seeking to flee the gunfire to return to the building,” he told local broadcaster WWBT. “It materialized in a stampede.”

A glimpse of the scene after a gunman opened fire in a park as high school graduates and their families walked out of a theater - Reuters

A glimpse of the scene after a gunman opened fire in a park as high school graduates and their families walked out of a theater – Reuters

Two people were treated for falls; a miner was hit by a car and sustained non-life-threatening injuries; and nine people were treated at the scene for minor injuries or anxiety, according to a police spokeswoman.

Jason Kamras, the superintendent of Richmond Public Schools, said the new grads were outside taking photos with families and friends when the shooting broke out.

“I have no more words on this,” Mr. Kamras said. “I’m just tired of people getting shot, our kids getting shot. And I’m begging the whole community to stop, stop.

Levar Stoney, the mayor of Richmond, has pledged to ensure that anyone responsible is brought to justice. “That shouldn’t happen anywhere,” he said.

Cars and police gather around the Altria Theater, the site of a Huguenot High School graduation shooting - Richmond Times-Dispatch

Cars and police gather around the Altria Theater, the site of a Huguenot High School graduation shooting – Richmond Times-Dispatch

John Willard, 69, who lives next to the scene, said he had climbed onto the balcony of his 18th-floor apartment when the shots rang out.

“There was a poor woman in front of the building next to ours who was moaning and crying,” he said, adding that the scene left him deeply saddened.

Meanwhile, Edythe Payne was helping her daughter sell flowers to students outside the theater when the incident happened.

“I felt bad because some old people were at graduation and they got knocked down,” she said.

The school district said another graduation scheduled for later Tuesday was canceled “out of an abundance of caution” and schools would be closed Wednesday.

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