Gunman who opened fire after Virginia high school graduation targeted graduate, police say

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An 18-year-old graduate and his stepfather were killed in a targeted shooting in Richmond, Virginia, Tuesday night after a high school graduation ceremony, police said.

Shawn Jackson and his 36-year-old stepfather Renzo Smith both died Tuesday night after being transported to a local hospital, officer James Mercante told USA TODAY. Five others were injured by gunfire, which had sent hundreds fleeing outside a theater after a graduation ceremony for Huguenot High School.

Authorities identified the suspect as Amari Pollard, 19, who was arrested at the scene. Pollard was charged with two counts of second-degree murder on Wednesday.

Richmond Interim Police Chief Rick Edwards said Pollard knew Jackson and the two had been in a dispute for more than a year. Edwards said the shooting was a targeted attack and further charges are pending.

"This was targeted at one individual. ... That’s what we know at this time," Edwards said during a news conference Wednesday.

Who are the victims?

Tameeka Jackson-Smith, Jackson’s mother and Smith’s wife, told The Associated Press that Jackson had just received his diploma at the graduation ceremony and was walking with Smith to join the rest of their family at a nearby park when gunfire broke out.

She said the family watched the graduation but were separated by a large crowd outside.

Jackson-Smith said her son liked rap music and making music videos. He also played sports, including football, basketball, and baseball. "Any sport that he touched he was great at," she said.

Smith was an Army veteran and a truck driver, Jackson-Smith said.

"My husband was so sweet," Jackson-Smith said. "He was a caregiver, he was just everything that you could wish for in a person."

The five others wounded in the shooting had non-life-threatening injuries. One of the injured was the 9-year-old daughter of Jackson-Smith and Smith.

According to a verified GoFundMe page, the 9-year-old was struck by a vehicle amid the chaos after the shooting. She was treated for leg injuries and released from the hospital, Jackson-Smith told The Associated Press.

At least 12 others were injured or treated for anxiety due to the mayhem, according to police.

“As they heard the gunfire, it was obviously chaos," Edwards said. "We had hundreds of people in Monroe Park, so people scattered. It was very chaotic at the scene.”

The conditions of the victims' injuries range from serious to critical, according to a health system spokesperson.

Where did the Richmond shooting happen?

The Tuesday night shooting happened near the city-owned Altria Theater in downtown Richmond after a high school graduation in the facility, police said.

Matthew Stanley, a spokesperson for Richmond Public Schools, told USA TODAY the shooting took place outside Monroe Park near the theater after Huguenot High School's graduation ceremony. The park is located in downtown Richmond near the Virginia Commonwealth University campus.

When the gunfire began, hundreds of attendees fled in panic, weeping and clutching their children, authorities and witnesses said.

Who is the suspect?

Police believe Pollard, of Henrico County, had attended the graduation and then had some kind of "interaction" with Jackson outside, Edwards said.

According to Edwards, police believe Pollard retrieved a handgun from his car. Other guns were also found at the scene, Edwards said.

Jackson-Smith told The Associated Press that she saw a man run up behind her husband and son and started shooting.

"He was just running and shooting. I had my daughter beside me and I saw her get hit by a car. My niece almost got hit by a car. I was trying to grab them," she said.

Edwards said it was not immediately clear how Pollard had obtained the gun because, at age 19, he would not have been able to buy a firearm himself from a licensed dealer.

Contributing: Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Richmond shooting: Suspect and graduate had a year-long dispute