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Richmond Police done talking about Graduation Day shooting; expert says releasing info 'could hurt' case

Posted at 8:37 PM, Jun 26, 2023

RICHMOND, Va. -- The Richmond Police Department said it will no longer publicly speak about a graduation day mass shooting that left two people shot and dead, seven others shot and injured, and at least 12 more hurt.

"The department will not be making any further statements regarding this investigation," police spokesperson Tracy Walker told CBS 6 reporter Tyler Layne Monday in response to follow-up questions about the investigation.

Police accused 19-year-old Amari Pollard of shooting and killing 18-year-old Shawn Jackson and his stepfather Renzo Smith outside of Huguenot High School's graduation on June 6.

Interim Police Chief Rick Edwards has previously said that the two teens had an ongoing feud with one another leading up to the shooting, though details about the conflict remain unclear.

On Friday, June 23, police were scheduled to give a "substantial" update on the investigation through a news conference. But at the last minute, the police canceled the briefing.

Instead, late Friday, Edwards released a pre-taped video including a prepared statement in which he gave a few pieces of new information.

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He said police "don't believe" any guns were brought into the Altria Theater on that day. Walker did not answer follow-up questions Monday about what evidence caused RPD to have this belief.

Edwards also said the incident was not gang-related.

Still, questions remain including who all had guns at the scene? Police initially said they recovered four guns from the crime scene, but they only ever confirmed to whom two of those firearms belonged: one being the suspect and the other being someone uninvolved in the shooting.

Edwards said the department will not answer questions about the other two guns and that information will have to come out in court.

Police have also declined to answer whether Pollard is allegedly responsible for shooting all seven of the gunshot victims. Currently, Pollard is charged with two counts of second-degree murder.

Richmond Police said their decision to not release more information came after consultation with Commonwealth's Attorney Colette McEachin.

“It’s possible that releasing information at this point could hurt the prosecution’s case, because there’s many, many ways that could occur," said CBS 6 legal analyst Todd Stone.

Stone said prosecutors should not lay out the full case in public right now, because it could impact potential witnesses and they may still be waiting for additional evidence.

“Sometimes you've got to wait to process all the ballistic evidence, and then consider who has an agenda, who's got a reason to lie, and who is lying, who's telling the truth. Ultimately, at trial, all those things have to be given up to a defense attorney," Stone said. "It's called Brady material."

He believes McEachin is doing the right thing by holding back.

“Yes, she's a public official, yes, she's elected by the public, but the fact is that her job is to do justice, and to make sure that people are held accountable for criminal actions," Stone said. "Honestly, the public doesn't have a right to know. This is a criminal investigation."

But not everyone feels the same, including those who were impacted by the tragedy.

"The public deserves to know everything," said Kellisha Cox, who was trampled in the aftermath of the shooting. “We definitely do not deserve to be left in the blind. We’re getting bits and pieces. We want the full picture.”

Cox said fully understanding the events that played out that day will be critical to her healing process.

"We as the people, when I say we I'm speaking for everyone who was out there that was affected, we have to live through this. So, closing a chapter sometimes takes having all the information that you need to be able to close that chapter," Cox said.

In a previous statement, McEachin said the "appropriate forum for evidence is in a court of law that is open to the public" and that she had no further comment.

CBS 6's attempts to reach Pollard's defense attorney Monday were unsuccessful.

Depend on CBS 6 News and WTVR.com for in-depth coverage of this important local story. Anyone with more information can email newstips@wtvr.com to send a tip.

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