BY Bryan Chai, The Western JournalJune 7, 2023
4 months ago

'Joyous Day' Turns Tragic as Deadly Mass Shooting Rocks High School Graduation

What is normally a time for celebration and waxing nostalgic turned into abject horror for the seniors at Huguenot High School after a mass shooting injured multiple people -- and left two dead.

The shooting took place on Tuesday, at the Altria Theater in Richmond, Virginia, per WTVR-TV.

Shawn Jackson, 18, and his father Renzo Smith, 36, were both identified as the two deceased victims of the shooting.

An additional shooting victim, only identified as a 31-year-old, has been described as having "life-threatening gunshot wounds."

The other four victims, a 14-year-old male, a 32-year-old male, a 55-year-old male and a 58-year-old male, were also wounded but are expected to survive.

Interim Richmond Police Chief Rick Edwards also told reporters that a 9-year-old child was injured after being hit by a car in the presumed chaos of the shooting. The child is expected to survive.

WTVR reported that 19-year-old Amari Pollard was taken into custody and appeared in court Wednesday. He is facing two counts of second-degree murder and is being held without bail.

As for a possible motive, Edwards noted that Pollard may have had a prior history with one of the victims.

"We think the suspect knew at least one of the victims," Edwards told reporters.

As for what exactly happened, Edwards provided the details surrounding the "chaos."

"We had three off-duty Richmond Police Officers working the [graduatoin]. They were outside directing traffic, and we had seven [officers] along the Belvedere corridor, blocking traffic so that people could get in and out," Edwards said. "As they heard the gunfire, it was obviously chaos. We had hundreds of people in Monroe Park. So people scattered.

"It was very chaotic at the scene, I can tell you that the person we believe who is going to be charged, was detained initially by VCU Security and was taken into custody and he is currently at the Richmond Police Department."

The community, obviously still in shock, has attempted to pick up the pieces in the wake of the senseless violence.

"Children were involved here ... this is their graduation day," Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney said. "The question that comes to my mind right now is, is nothing sacred any longer? Is nothing sacred any longer?"

Stoney also didn't hold back when describing the act itself: "It's a selfish act. It's a senseless act. And to me, it's cowardice."

An exasperated-sounding Richmond Schools Superintendent Jason Kamras added: "This is supposed to be a joyous day when our kids walk the stage and get their diplomas. Which is what they all did here for Huguenot today, and walked out the doors into their families' and friends' arms taking pictures.

"And then this tragedy occurred. I don't have any more words on this. I'm tired of seeing people get shot. Our kids get shot. And I beg of the entire community to stop, 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."

Republican Lt. Governor Winsome Earle-Sears also spoke up about the tragedy, while pushing for the horrific act not to be politicized into anti-Second Amendment and anti-gun legislation.

"Even if you took all the guns off the street, from the law-abiding citizens, the others who mean harm, who mean to kill and mayhem, they're going to have the guns," Earle-Sears said. "So we have to figure out what's going on in our communities. We have to find the right problem, so that we can come to the right solution."

She added: "When do we say enough is enough? When do we say that? How many more people have to die before we say you're going to jail."

Of note, Virginia already has moderately strong gun laws in place. Gun law advocacy group Giffords gives Virginia a "B" for how strict its gun laws are.

Comparatively, Giffords (named after former Congresswoman Gabriel Giffords) gives heavy pro-Second Amendment states like Texas, Montana and Georgia an "F" grade.

Pollard reportedly had multiple weapons on him when he was caught.

Police are still investigating a possible motive for Pollard's shooting.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

Written by: Bryan Chai, The Western Journal

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