Graduating senior and his father were killed in shooting after high school graduation in Richmond

Posted at 5:46 PM, Jun 06, 2023

RICHMOND, Va. -- Shawn Jackson, 18, and his father Renzo Smith, 36, were shot and killed Tuesday when someone opened fire in Monroe Park following Huguenot High School's graduation ceremony at the Altria Theater in Richmond, Virginia.

Community advocate Charles Willis. who runs the group United Communities Against Crime, released the slain shooting victims' names and their photos on behalf of the grieving family.

"The family asked that the Richmond community keep them in your prayers," Willis said.

Jackson had just participated in the high school graduation ceremony, Interim Richmond Police Chief Rick Edwards said earlier Tuesday without releasing the teenager's name.

_Shawn Jackson and Renzo Smith 02.png
Shawn Jackson and Renzo Smith

One person was taken into custody after the shooting, Edwards said.

Amari Pollard, 19, appeared in a Richmond courtroom Wednesday morning.

He is facing two counts of second-degree murder and will be held without bond.

"We think the suspect knew at least one of the victims," Edwards said.

He added the suspect had multiple weapons on him when he was detained.

The motive for the shooting, which injured at least five other people, remains under investigation.

It was unclear if the 19-year-old suspect was currently a high school student, Edwards added.

A 31-year-old shooting victim remains hospitalized with life-threatening gunshot wounds, Edwards said.

Four shooting victims, a 14-year-old male, a 32-year-old male, a 55-year-old male, and a 58-year-old male, suffered what were described as non-life-threatening injuries.

"I'd like to just express my concerns and sympathy for those who have lost their lives today, and those whose lives were forever changed," he said. "We prepare for an event like this, and we prepared for it with our partners and hoped that this day wouldn't come, but it came to Richmond today."

Police chief answers questions after graduation day shooting in Richmond, Virginia

"I'm told that one of the injuries, that is not a shooting-related injury, was someone who was hit by a car," Crime Insider reporter Jon Burkett reported earlier Tuesday.

That person was confirmed to be a nine-year-old child, Edwards said at a 9 p.m. police briefing.

That child was taken to the hospital and expected to survive.

Deadly shooting after high school graduation in Richmond, Virginia.

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8:09 PM, Jun 06, 2023

VCU Police issued an alert Tuesday afternoon about a shooting in or around Monroe Park. The Altria Theater, the site of high school graduation ceremonies for Richmond Public Schools, sits on one end of the park in downtown Richmond on the VCU campus.

All remaining Richmond Public Schools graduations have been canceled and will be rescheduled, the school system announced Tuesday.

"At 5:13 p,m. officers inside the [Altria] reported hearing gunshots outside," Interim Richmond Police Chief Rick Edwards said at a 7 p.m. press briefing. "Responding officers on traffic detail found multiple victims suffering from gunshot wounds."

Richmond Police chief gives update on people shot after high school graduation in Richmond, Va.

"We had three off-duty Richmond Police Officers working the [graduatoin]. They were outside directing traffic, and we had seven [officers] along the Belvedere corridor, blocking traffic so that people could get in and out," Edwards said in a 9 p.m. briefing. "As they heard the gunfire, it was obviously chaos. We had hundreds of people in Monroe Park. So people scattered. It was very chaotic at the scene, I can tell you that the person we believe who is going to be charged, was detained initially by VCU Security and was taken into custody and he is currently at the Richmond Police Department."

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney called the shooting both tragic and traumatic.

"Children were involved here... this is their graduation day," Stoney said. "The question that comes to my mind right now is, is nothing sacred any longer? Is nothing sacred any longer?"

He pledged to bring the individuals responsible for the shooting to justice not just for the families involved, but also the city.

Richmond Mayor gives update on shooting after high school graduation in Richmond

"A child should be able to go to their graduation and walk out the graduation and enjoy the accomplishment with their friends and their families," he said. "It's a selfish act. It's a senseless act. And to me, it's cowardice."

Richmond Public Schools have canceled all activities Tuesday night and school on Wednesday.

"This is supposed to be a joyous day when our kids walk the stage and get their diplomas. Which is what they all did here for Huguenot today, and walked out the doors into their families' and friends' arms taking pictures," Richmond Schools Superintendent Jason Kamras said at the 7 p.m. briefing. "And then this tragedy occurred. I don't have any more words on this. I'm tired of seeing people get shot. Our kids get shot. And I beg of the entire community to stop, to just stop. Our kids can't take it. Our teachers can't take it. Our families can't take it anymore. I beg of you to stop."

Superintendent to community after high school graduation shooting in Richmond: 'Just stop'

Lt. Governor Winsome Earle-Sears (R - Virginia) said the gun violence in Richmond was not about law-abiding gun owners, but rather gangs.

"Even if you took all the guns off the street, from the law-abiding citizens, the others who mean harm, who mean to kill and mayhem, they're going to have the guns," she said. "So we have to figure out what's going on in our communities. We have to find the right problem, so that we can come to the right solution."

She said the criminal justice system needed to be tougher on those who commit crimes.

Virginia Lt. Gov. Winsome Earle-Sears on graduation shooting in Richmond: 'This is not about law-abiding gun owners'

"When do we say enough is enough? When do we say that?" she asked. "How many more people have to die before we say you're going to jail. We're going to lock you up and there's not going to be any bail so that we can have safety in our communities. When does that happen? Who is in charge? Is that the mayor? Is that the chief? Who is that? Let's start naming names."

Interim Police Chief Edwards later said he did not believe the shooting was gang related.

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