Two people were killed and five others wounded on Tuesday during a shooting outside a high school graduation ceremony in Richmond, Virginia, police said. A suspect was in custody facing at least two murder charges.
The two people killed were an 18-year-old man and a 36-year-old man. They were not immediately identified, but the 18-year-old was set to graduate Tuesday.
A 31-year-old gunshot victim still had life-threatening injuries Tuesday night, police said. Four males, ages 14, 32, 55 and 58, had injuries that were not considered life-threatening.
A 19-year-old suspect is in custody and is facing two second-degree murder charges, Richmond Police acting chief Rick Edwards said at a news conference.
Police did not offer a motive, but said they believe the suspect knew “at least one of the victims.”
At an earlier news conference, Edwards had said two suspects were in custody, but on Tuesday night he clarified that one of the two people detained was not believed to be involved in the shooting. Four handguns were recovered, but at least one belonged to the second individual who is not believed to be involved, Edwards said.
The graduation ceremony at the Altria Theater, located in Monroe Park on the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University, was abruptly canceled after shots rang out shortly after 5 p.m., Edwards said.
Off-duty officers working security inside the ceremony immediately responded to the scene and found the shooting victims, Edwards said earlier Tuesday. Virginia Commonwealth University security detained the suspect after he left the scene, Edwards said.
No police officers were injured or fired their weapons during the incident, Edwards said.
A number of people were treated for different injuries, including two people from falls, a 9-year-old girl who was hit by a car during the shooting, and three people who were treated for anxiety, Edwards said. The girl was treated at the scene before being taken to a local hospital with injuries that were not considered life-threatening, Edwards said.
Edwards said there was no ongoing threat to the community.
A Richmond Public Schools spokesperson said the graduation ceremony would be rescheduled.
“This incident occurred toward the end of the Huguenot High School graduation and we have canceled the Thomas Jefferson High School graduation scheduled for later tonight. It will be rescheduled soon,” the spokesperson said.
U.S. Rep. Jennifer McClellan, who represents Virginia’s fourth congressional district, which includes Richmond, said in a statement, “Tonight’s celebration turned into every parent’s worst nightmare. As the mother of two school-aged children, I cannot fathom the profound heartbreak, sense of loss and trauma these families are experiencing.”
“The gun violence epidemic is a public health crisis that we must address. We cannot continue to live in fear,” McClellan added.