Two people were left dead and five others were injured on Tuesday, June 6, after a a 19-year-old suspect reportedly opened fire on the crowds at the Altria Theater in Richmond, Virginia, during a high school graduation. The suspect, whose name has not yet been released by authorities, is currently under police custody.
Trigger warning: This article concerns gun violence, reader discretion is advised.
While authorities have not released the names of the victims, they confirmed that the deceased individuals were both male, aged 18 and 36, respectively. While two suspects were detained, authorities determined that at least one of them was not involved in the shooting. Investigators also reportedly recovered multiple handguns at the scene of the crime.
Authorities piece together the Virginia shooting
As per Richmond Interim Police Chief Rick Edwards, the shooting occured in the evening, towards the end of the Virginia high school's graduation ceremony. CNN reported that the event was being held by the Huguenot High School near Monroe Park.
Security guards at the Virginia theater reported that the attack started at approximately 5:15 pm. At this point, the bulk of the ceremony was over and many of the attendees were in Monroe park, taking pictures. After the first rounds were fired, security guards quickly radioed that shots were fired, and simultaneously received support from nearby officials working in traffic duty.
Subsequently, the situation devolved into chaos as members of the crowds attempted to escape the scene. Upon arriving, officials saw the 19-year-old suspected shooter fleeing the scene, and arrested him with no major incident.
Authorities noted that one injured victim, a 9-year-old girl, was hit by a car while she was running away; she is currently being treated at a hospital. Virginia officials noted that another injured victim included a 14-year-old boy. The remainder of the victims ranged between 31 and 58. Of the five people injured, four had sustained non-life threatening injuries.
In an official statement to Virginia's public, Richmond mayor Levar M. Stoney condemned the actions of the shooter, stating:
"This should not be happening anywhere (....) Is nothing sacred any longer? Is nothing sacred any longer?”
Richmond Public Schools Superintendent Jason Kamras also expressed his shock at the incident, saying:
“I don’t have any more words on this. I’m just tired of seeing people get shot, our kids get shot. And I beg of the entire community to stop.”
The graduation ceremony shooting currently remains under investigation by Richmond authorities. Investigators have not released any information concerning the motive behind the shooting.
It is also unknown whether the 19-year-old suspect is a student at the school. In response to the tragic event, US Rep. Jennifer McClellan has spoken out against gun violence, blaming the incident on lax gun laws across the country.