September 22, 2023

A high school gathered to celebrate graduation. Then two people were killed in the last mass shooting in America



Shortly after graduates of Huguenot High School and their families left the graduation ceremony at the Altria Theater in Richmond, Virginia, gunfire broke out killing two people and wounding five others.

At about 5:15 p.m. local time on Tuesday, shots were fired into the crowd of revelers in Monroe Park.

Among the victims are a deceased stepfather and son who were murdered, identified as 18-year-old Shawn Jackson and 36-year-old Lorenzo Smith. Five others were wounded by bullets, ranging in age from 14 to 55 years old.

Footage from the incident shows the crowd of people descending into chaos as they tried to escape the gun violence. As a result of the rush, two other people were injured, including a nine-year-old.

Richmond Police Department officers responded quickly to the horrific incident and have taken into custody one suspect – 19-year-old Amari Ty-Jon Pollard – who they believe was involved in the shooting.

The tragedy is the 279th mass shooting in the US this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive.

Here’s everything we know so far


Richmond Police Department officers responded to shots fired in Monroe Park outside the Altria Theater at approximately 5:15 p.m. local time on Tuesday (June 6) — just after the graduation ceremony for Huguenot High School students.

Hundreds of people gathered in the open-space park to celebrate the new high school graduates.

Officers at the Altira Theater heard the gunshots and found “multiple victims with gunshot wounds,” Rick Edwards, acting chief of the Richmond Police Department, said at a news conference Tuesday.

Two people, a stepfather and son were shot dead.

Five other people suffered gunshot wounds, one of whom had life-threatening injuries but was later ruled not life-threatening.

Other people were injured as a result of the chaotic scene caused by the hundreds of people running, including a nine-year-old who was hit by a car.

In the hours following the shooting, Richmond Public Schools (RPS) posted a notice on their website that schools were closed on Wednesday and all high school graduations were canceled for that week.

“RPS extends its deepest condolences to the victims and families of yesterday’s shooting, and to all those affected by the events that took place,” the message reads.

The victims

Two of the victims have been identified as Shawn Jackson, 18, and his stepfather, Lorenzo Smith, 36, by Jackson’s mother and Smith’s wife, Tameek Jackson-Smith, to NBC News.

18-year-old Shawn Jackson (GoFundMe)

18-year-old Shawn Jackson (GoFundMe)

Jackson had just graduated from high school on Tuesday and Smith was in attendance, according to Mr. Edwards.

A GoFundMe has been started for Mrs. Jackson-Smith to help with unexpected expenses, grief counseling, medical bills, and other financial assistance.

36-year-old Lorenzo Smith (GoFundMe)

36-year-old Lorenzo Smith (GoFundMe)

Five other people suffered
gunshot wounds as a result of the shooting: a 14-year-old boy, a 31-year-old, a 32-year-old man, a 55-year-old man and a 58-year-old man.

Two other people were self-transported or taken by ambulance to a hospital for injuries sustained in the frenzied stampede when gunfire erupted.

One of them was a nine-year-old girl who had been identified in the GoFundMe as Jackson’s younger sister.

According to the GoFundMe description, the young girl is “now wheelchair bound” after being hit by a vehicle. Mr Edwards said the girl was treated at the scene and released and then taken to a local hospital where she still has “non-life-threatening wounds”.

On Wednesday, Mr Edwards called the young girls’ injuries “very minor”.

Richmond Public Schools superintendent Jason Kamras appeared at a news conference Tuesday and said, “I’m tired of seeing people get shot, our kids get shot, and I’m begging the entire community to stop.”

The suspects

Shortly after the shooting, police arrested two people, one of whom police said was involved in the shooting. Police also recovered “several” handguns after the shooting.

Mr Edwards said after an inquiry that police believe the other person arrested was not involved in the shooting itself.

The suspect has been identified as 19-year-old Amari Ty-Jon Pollard, who police said “knew at least one of the victims”.

Amari Ty-Jon Pollard, 19, is the suspect in the shooting (Office of the Sheriff of the City of Richmond, Virginia)

Amari Ty-Jon Pollard, 19, is the suspect in the shooting (Office of the Sheriff of the City of Richmond, Virginia)

Mr. Pollard was detained by Virginia Commonwealth University security after he attempted to flee on foot, according to police.

He was arraigned on two counts of first-degree murder on Wednesday, June 7, in the morning.

As of Tuesday night, K-9 units were looking for additional firearms or casings, but Mr Edwards told police: “Feel pretty good about where we are forensically right now” and stated they were not looking for additional suspects.

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