The 19-year-old suspect involved in the Richmond, Virginia, high school graduation shooting attempted to flee on foot but was arrested and arraigned on Wednesday morning. Amari Pollard was charged with two counts of second-degree murder and held without bail after the tragedy left two dead and five others injured.
Richmond’s top prosecutor, Colette McEachin, told The Associated Press Pollard would hire an attorney to represent him. Until then, the court case would continue until an official hearing on June 21.
Currently multiple law enforcements are on scene of a mass shooting that took place during a high school graduation ceremony in Monroe Park on the… pic.twitter.com/18sEoB973z
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The gunfire started at the Virginia capital’s Altria Theater. It carried across the street to a town park near the Virginia Commonwealth University campus, where nearby pedestrians broke into a stampede to find safety. According to authorities, at least 12 bystanders were injured and treated for mental health and anxiety following the shooting.
Two of the victims shot and killed by Pollard were Huguenot High School graduate Shawn Jackson, 18, and his father, Renzo Smith, 36. According to police, the two young men had an “ongoing dispute,” allegedly leading Pollard to open fire.
“I didn’t know Shawn, but I shook his hand and wished him congratulations about 20 minutes before he died,” Richmond Public Schools Superintendent Jason Kamras said during a news conference. “Those who did know Shawn described him as bubbly and the life of the party,” he added.
“Getting to the graduation stage was not easy for Shawn; nevertheless, he did it, and he was rightly proud, smiling and celebrating like all of his peers,” Kamras continued. “Then, just a few minutes later, while enjoying the moment with his family in Monroe Park, he was gunned down. I can’t shake the image of him receiving CPR on the ground, still in his graduation gown.”
Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney said he was disgusted by the latest shooting and called it “traumatic.”
“This is tragic but also traumatic. Because this is their graduation day,” Stoney said. “Is nothing sacred any longer?”
Due to the city’s emergency, all surrounding schools in Richmond were closed, and the alternate high school in town, Thomas Jefferson High School, canceled its graduation ceremony scheduled for Tuesday night.