Reporter reflects on deadly Graduation Day shooting: 'I'll never forget it'

Posted at 2:24 PM, Jun 09, 2024

RICHMOND, Va. -- One year after the deadly Graduation Day shooting outside the Altria Theater in Richmond, reporter Elizabeth Holmes is reflecting on a story that she covered that she says she will never forget.

Holmes told CBS 6 anchor Bill Fitzgerald that it took her quite awhile to make it to the scene at Monroe Park because so main roads were blocked.

"I was coming actually from outside of Henrico County," Holmes recalled. "I had to park in Jackson Ward and walk. And as we were walking, we saw police car after police car. People were stopping us on the street saying, 'What's going on?' I made sure to put on my CBS 6 hat so that people knew kind of where I was going and who I was. But I saw the biggest police presence I've ever seen in my life."

As Holmes made it closer to the scene, she said there was a sense of panic from people who were not sure what was going on.

"Some people said that they heard just a barrage of law enforcement cars coming in. There were people from Virginia State Police Henrico, Richmond... We didn't know if a shooter was on the loose. And that was really the most terrifying thing was — is there a shooter around this very heavily populated part of Richmond, knowing that there was a graduation ceremony, knowing that there were hundreds of people in this area right now?"

WATCH: Timeline of deadly Graduation Day shooting in Richmond and events that followed

One year later. A timeline of the Graduation Day shooting and events that followed

Because of the chaotic scene, it took police and first responders quite a while to assess, secure the area and then brief the media on what happened.

"It was terrifying to not know what had happened," Holmes recalled. "I spoke with a young woman who had actually been selling flowers, selling gifts, balloons for people who are graduating. I remember her telling me you know, 'This was supposed to be a very joyous occasion."

The eyewitness had been with her mother at the table when she said she heard the gunshots.

"She hid underneath the table, blocking herself and her mom from just a stampede of people who were afraid, who had just heard gunshots," Holmes said. "And I just remember her being so shaken up... I remember all of us sitting out there also very shaken not knowing that this would be the site of a mass shooting."

Holmes said she will always remember the look on the face of Richmond Public Schools Superintendent Jason Kamras as he and other city leaders walked to address reporters.

"I'll never forget that image of him walking up in his graduation garb and being teary-eyed, red-eyed and saying that a student had lost their life and just being speechless," Holmes. "It was just the weight of it."

Holmes said she will never forget calling her fatherand "asking why" this continue to happen.

"Because we report on shootings quite frequently here," Holmes said. "And you know, there are some things that we may never know the answer to."

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