Remembering the father and son killed on Graduation Day in Richmond: 'They had hearts of gold'

Posted at 6:54 AM, Jun 08, 2023

RICHMOND, Va. -- Family members of the father and son killed minutes after a high school graduation in Richmond, Virginia shared memories of their loved ones lost.

‘They had hearts of gold. They were very loving and all about family,” Shawn Jackson's aunt Datrell Glover said Wednesday, a little more than 24 hours after the deadly Graduation Day mass shooting.

Jackson, 18, and his stepfather 36-year-old Renzo Smith were killed Tuesday outside the Altria Theater, minutes after Jackson's high school graduation from Huguenot High School.

The gunfire sent hundreds fleeing in panic outside the theater. Five other people were wounded.

Richmond Interim Police Chief Rick Edwards said the shooting suspect, 19-year-old Amari Pollard, knew Jackson. He said the two had been embroiled in a dispute for more than a year.

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Glover and her family continue to question why the shooting happened.

"Why? Just why? This could be resolved in so many other ways. But lately, these young boys, they only see violence and guns," she said.

Glover said Jackson's family was so proud watching him cross the stage to get his diploma.

She said his mom and dad were wearing custom t-shirts to show their support. When Jackson walked off stage, he was nothing but smiles, she remembered.

“He had no idea his life was going to end that day,” Glover said. "f I knew that he was going to be gone, I would have hugged him a little longer."

Graduation Day Shooting in Richmond

She described Jackson as someone who would come into any room smiling.

She said he loved music and wanted to be a music producer.

"When we have a family gathering. Shawn is the DJ," she said. "He'll play his music."

Renzo, she said, wasa retired Army veteran who became a truck driver to support his family. They said he loved soul food and would do anything to help others.

While Jackson's nine-year-old sister was expected to be physically OK after she was hit by a car fleeing the gunshots, she and the family have much to work through after being traumatized by the violence.

The family plans to hold a vigil on Sunday. You can support the family by donating here.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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