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RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Two people are dead and multiple others were injured during a shooting outside a high school graduation near Virginia Commonwealth University’s Monroe Park campus Tuesday evening, police have confirmed. A suspect is also in custody.
The shooting happened around 5:15 p.m. ET outside the Altria Theater, where Huguenot High School was holding its graduation ceremony.
Officers inside reported hearing gunfire and notified additional officers stationed outside, Interim Richmond Police Chief Rick Edwards said during a Tuesday evening press conference.
Officers then found seven individuals outside the theater with gunshot wounds, Edwards said.
During a second press conference, Edwards said two of those individuals – an 18-year-old boy who graduated Tuesday, and a 36-year-old man – have died.
Another victim, a 31-year-old, remains hospitalized with life-threatening injuries. Four others are hospitalized with non-life-threatening gunshot wounds:
- 14-year-old boy
- 32-year-old man
- 55-year-old man
- 58-year-old man
Additional victims transported themselves or were taken via Richmond Ambulance Authority to nearby hospitals with other injuries. That includes two who fell during the incident, a 9-year-old that was hit by a car, and three people for anxiety.
The 9-year-old was treated at the scene and released, Edwards said. They were later taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
During an earlier press conference, Edwards said two people had been taken into custody. He later confirmed one of those individuals, who was armed, is no longer believed to be involved in the shooting.
The second person, a 19-year-old man, was arrested after he fled the scene on foot. According to Edwards, authorities are now pursuing two counts of second-degree murder against the man, who has not yet been identified. Police believe the man knew at least one of the victims.
Edwards noted that multiple firearms were recovered at the scene. He added that there is no longer a threat to the community.
“We’re going to do everything we can to bring the individuals involved in this to justice,” Mayor Levar Stoney said at the news conference. “This should not be happening anywhere.”
Richmond School Board member Jonathan Young told WRIC the shooting broke out as students and families were leaving the graduation ceremony. In a message posted to its website, Richmond Public Schools said the shooting took place in Monroe Park, which is across the street from Altria Theater.
A witness told WRIC they heard at least 30 shots fired.
“Everyone literally started running for their lives,” the witness explained. She said she believes at least one of the people shot was a graduate.
Edythe Payne was helping her daughter sell flowers outside the theater to students as they left the ceremony. She told the Richmond Times-Dispatch that the shooting caused a panic on nearby Main Street, which was packed with people at the time.
“I felt bad because some elderly people were at the graduation and they got knocked down to the ground,” Payne said.
Thomas Jefferson High School also had a graduation scheduled for later in the evening, but it has now been canceled.
Richmond Public Schools will be closed Wednesday, according to school officials.
Additional information is expected to be released Tuesday night.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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