Police: Mass Shooting After Graduation Ceremony Was 'Targeted'

Suspect Amari Pollard,was in an 'ongoing dispute' with one of the 2 people killed, police say
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 7, 2023 3:23 PM CDT
Police Say Virginia Graduation Shooting Was Targeted
A Virginia Commonwealth University police car passes in front of the Altria Theater which was the site of a mass shooting after a graduation ceremony Wednesday, June 7, 2023, in Richmond, Va.   (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

The mass shooting that killed two people and injured five others after a high school graduation in Richmond, Virginia Tuesday was a targeted attack and the "result of an ongoing dispute," police say. Graduate Shawn Jackson, 18, and his 36-year-old father, Renzo Smith, were killed, CNN reports. The suspected gunman, 19-year-old Amari Pollard, tried to flee the scene on foot but was arrested within minutes. He was arraigned Wednesday morning on two counts of second-degree murder and is being held without bail, reports the AP. Police say Pollard had been in a dispute with Jackson for more than a year.

Hundreds of people, many of them in graduation gowns, fled in panic when the shooting began, the BBC reports. Police say the five people injured in the shooting are all in non-life-threatening conditions. Around a dozen other people were injured in the chaos, including a 9-year-old girl related to the victims. She was hit by a car and suffered minor injuries. Tameeka Jackson-Smith, Jackson's mother and Smith's wife, says the family was walking in a crowd after the graduation ceremony when a man ran up behind her husband and son and started shooting, the AP reports.

"He was so happy—oh my God—because he got to graduate. He worked hard," Jackson-Smith says of her son. Officials including Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney condemned the shooting. "I didn’t know Shawn, but I shook his hand and wished him congratulations about 20 minutes before he died,” Jason Kamras, the superintendent of Richmond Public Schools, said Wednesday, per CNN. "I can’t shake the image of him receiving CPR on the ground, still in his graduation gown." (More Virginia stories.)

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