Dad killed on Graduation Day was a veteran who wanted 'serve his country, take care of his family'

Posted at 12:32 PM, Jun 07, 2023
and last updated 2023-06-07 15:04:21-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Renzo Smith, the 36-year-old father killed in a Graduation Day shooting in Richmond, Virginia, was a veteran who "wanted to serve his country and take care of his family," his aunt Margarette Lenard told CBS 6 News.

"He wanted to be in the Army. He wanted to serve his country," she said. "He decided to be Army strong. He did not allow anything, nothing at all, to deter him from doing that."

 Renzo Smith
Renzo Smith

Lenard said Smith fell in love with a Richmond woman and eventually helped raise her son Shawn Jackson as his own.

Tameeka Jackson-Smith, Jackson's mother and Smith's wife said the family had watched the graduation, then got separated in a large crowd after they walked outside.

“He was so happy — oh my God — because he got to graduate. He worked hard," she said of her son.

She said she was walking toward her husband and son when she saw a man run up behind them and start 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.

Both Smith and Jackson were killed in the post-graduation shooting outside Altria Theater in Richmond.

Jackson-Smith said her son enjoyed rap music and making music videos, and played football, basketball and baseball. “Any sport that he touched he was great at,” she said.

She said her husband, who was also called “Renzo,” was an Army veteran and a truck driver.

“My husband was so sweet," she said. “He was a caregiver, he was just everything that you could wish for in a person.”

Lenard said Renzo only wanted to serve his country and take care of his family.

"His time has been stolen from him," he said.

Lenard said she recently sent Jackson a graduation present.

The gift was a handmade blanket she gives to each family member to take into adulthood.

"I told Shawn last Saturday... if you're ever feeling lonely or sad, or something bad is happening. you wrap this blanket around you and know that [I am] giving you a hug," she said.

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Lenard said she spent Tuesday night writing letters to elected officials begging for more to be done to stop gun violence.

Richmond Interim Police Chief Rick Edwards said the shooting suspect, Amari Pollard, 19, knew Jackson and the two had been embroiled in a dispute for more than a year. Edwards said the nature of the dispute is still being investigated.

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

Pollard was arraigned Wednesday morning on two counts of second-degree murder, said Colette McEachin, Richmond’s top prosecutor. Pollard said he intends to hire an attorney, so the court continued the case until a hearing later this month, McEachin wrote in an email. Pollard was ordered held without bond. Court records did not immediately list an attorney who could speak on his behalf.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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