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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Sarah Rankin

7 wounded in shooting after high school graduation ceremony in Virginia capital

Copyright The Richmond Times-Dispatch

Police in Richmond, Virginia, responded on Tuesday to a shooting that took place during a high school graduation ceremony on the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University.

Seven people were shot in the incident, leaving with three people life-threatening injuries and four with non-life-threatening injuries, Richmond interim police chief Rick Edwards said during a press conference on Tuesday. Two people were killed in the shooting, WRIC reports, and children were among those wounded in the incident, according to the outlet.

Five others went to the hospital with other injuries, he added. Bystanders also sustained injuries fleeing the shooting, including individuals who fell and someone who was struck by a car.

Two people have been arrested in connection with the violence, Mr Edwards said.

According to the university’s safety alert system, shots were fired on the Monroe Park campus after 5pm Eastern time, near the Altria Theater.

“Children were involved here ... this is their graduation day,” Richmond mayor Levar Stoney said on Tuesday. “The question that comes to my mind right now is, is nothing sacred any longer? Is nothing sacred any longer?”

“This does have to stop. We know where it starts,” lieutenant governor Virginia Winsome Earle-Sears said on Tuesday, speaking to reporters from campus. “If I had the accountability and the responsibility, this wouldn’t keep happening. The peope who are elected here, they’re in charge. They must make that adjustment so that this, the shooting, doesn’t keep happening.”

Three off-duty officers were inside the theatre and heard gunshots around 5.13pm, running outside and encountering the victims.

VCU police said on Tuesday there’s no ongoing threat to the public.

“Multiple injuries reported. There is no immediate threat to the public,” the Richmond Police Department tweeted on Tuesday. “Avoid the area.”

The shooting took place outside of Huguenot High School’s graduation ceremony, Richmond Public Schools told the station.

Jason Alexander, whose son was part of the graduation ceremony, told NBC12 the shooting sounded like “fireworks” and sent crowds scattering outside the theater.

The man says he saw multiple injured and estimates he heard eight to 10 shots fired.

“It just don’t make no sense,” another bystander told the station. “We’re supposed to be happy about people. We’re supposed to be supporting one another, loving on another, hugging one another. Come on now. I just think it’s bad. We have to do better.”

The man told the station one of his daughter’s friends was among the wounded.

“Everyone literally started running for their lives,” a witness told 8News.

The incident occured close to the end of the ceremony, witnesses told WTVR.

“This is heartbreaking,” congresswoman Jennifer McClellan of Virginia wrote on Twitter on Tuesday. “My staff & I are closely monitoring this situation. Praying for the safety of everyone involved. I encourage everyone who can to avoid the area.”

Bystander video of the shooting from bystanders shows throngs of people running across the campus green after the shooting.

Virginia state police and Richmond police enforcement officers are on campus investigating.

Police were seen by local reporters searching a car near the campus.

Richard Public Schools will be closed on Wednesday following the shooting, school officials wrote on the RPS website.

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