The Altria Theater, on the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University, in Richmond, Virginia, USA, had been reserved all day for the city's public school ceremonies. Around 17:13 p.m. on Tuesday, as the young graduates of the Huguenot High School, in "graduation" robes, radiant and relieved, left the theater, a man opened fire in the crowd, killing an 18-year-old high school student who had just graduated, and a 36-year-old man who was attending the ceremony. They could have a family connection.
Six people were shot, one seriously. They are aged 14, 31, 32, 55, and 58. Three other people were injured in the panic that followed the shooting, two fell, and a 9-year-old girl was hit by a car as she fled the scene.
The 19-year-old suspect, whose name has not been released, left the scene on foot and was arrested in possession of four handguns, three of which may have been used in the shooting. He could be charged with two second-degree murders. Another man, arrested in possession of a pistol, was quickly released.
According to the first elements of the investigation, the alleged shooter knew the first victim and may have wanted to attack only her. His gesture is all the more "disgusting and cowardly," accused the acting chief of the Richmond police, Rick Edwards, at a press conference Tuesday night.
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"When you have a crowd like this, innocent people are going to be caught in the chaos, and that's what happened today," Edwards said. "Obviously, it should have been a safe space... It is incredibly tragic that someone decided to bring a gun to this incident and rain terror down on our community."
'Selfish and senseless act'
Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney called the shooting a "selfish and senseless act." Thomas Jefferson High School's graduation ceremony scheduled for Tuesday night has been canceled and all public schools in the city will be closed on Wednesday.
All RPS schools & offices will be closed tomorrow, June 7. All high school graduations have also been canceled. Further updates regarding rescheduling will be shared soon. pic.twitter.com/AAFum2TdcB
— Richmond Public Schools (@RPS_Schools) June 7, 2023
This "mass shooting" is the 279th recorded in the United States since the beginning of 2023 by the Gun Violence Archive, which takes into account shootings involving four or more people, not counting the shooter or shooters.