The life of a Virginia teenager and his stepfather were cut short on Tuesday after a gunman opened fire at his high school graduation.
The shocking incident took place outside the Altria Theater on the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University, which was hosting the graduation of Huguenot High School. Shortly after the ceremony concluded, shots rang out around 5:15 p.m., sending the crowd scattering and multiple people injured. Sadly, 18-year-old Shawn Jackson and his stepdad, 36-year-old Renzo Smith, were fatally wounded. Five others were also shot, though their injuries were not life-threatening. Additionally, several people were treated for injuries sustained during the chaos. A 9-year-old was hit by a car as people tried to flee. Others were treated for panic attacks, and some had been hurt from falls while trying to run.
Shortly after the shooting, police arrested 19-year-old Amari Pollard. They believe this was a targeted attack on Jackson, with whom Pollard had a year-long feud. The two had an interaction of some sort outside the graduation that prompted Pollard to retrieve a gun from his vehicle. However, investigators have confirmed the murder was not gang-related. The other victims were innocent bystanders.
Richmond School District Superintendent Jason Kamras said he is haunted by the image of Jackson receiving CPR to save his life while still in his cap and gown. Only 20 minutes prior, Kamras had shaken Jackson’s hand as he handed him his diploma. Tameeka Jackson-Smith, the teen’s mother and Smith’s wife, said her son was so happy to receive his diploma. She shared that the family was briefly separated outside the venue when the shots rang out.
Pollard has been charged with two counts of second-degree murder. He is being held in the Richmond City Jail without bond.