A father and his 18-year-old son—who had just graduated from high school minutes before—were killed in a shooting Tuesday evening outside of a ceremony being held on campus at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, police and local reports said.
At least five others were shot during the incident, according to NBC 12 WWBT, which first reported the pair’s relationship, citing police sources. Neither were named.
One of the victims, 31, remains in critical condition, while the other four—males aged 14, 32, 35 and 58—were listed in non-life threatening condition, police said at a press conference following the incident.
At least six more were injured by other means, including two from falls and three who “reported suffering from anxiety.” One nine-year-old was hit by a car while people fled, and was treated at the scene before being released.
Police also said they have arrested a 19-year-old male suspect they believe to be involved, and that there is no active threat to the community. They believe the suspect knew at least one of the men who died.
Prosecutors plan to immediately seek two charges of second-degree murder, with more charges to follow.
Another male with a firearm was arrested, but police later said he did not appear to have been involved in the shooting.
Richmond Public Schools confirmed to NBC 12 that the incident happened outside a campus theater during Huguenot High School’s graduation ceremony, but offered few other details.
A subsequent graduation event for Thomas Jefferson High School has since been canceled.
VCU sent out its initial alert just after 5 p.m. ET, warning of a shooting at the school’s Monroe Park campus.
“The Richmond Police and VCU Police Departments, with support from Virginia State Police and Henrico Police, are on scene near the Altria Theater for a shooting incident,” another alert from VCU said. “There is no ongoing threat to the community but there is a heavy police presence at Monroe Park. Richmond Police are leading the investigation.”
A witness, who goes by Michelle Foxx on Facebook, posted a livestream of the carnage, showing paramedics performing CPR on a victim amid strewn shoes and graduation caps.
Foxx also said that police had already been manning a corner next to the theater. “When the gunshots first started going off, I didn’t think there were gunshots because the police were so close,” she said.
Another witness, Valerie L’Herrou, told The Daily Beast she was driving past the venue with her husband when they heard “probably a dozen” gunshots ring out.
“We were sitting at a light … and then I became aware that there were these ‘pop, pop, pop’ sounds,” she said. “And so I looked and we saw all these people just start to run.”
L’Herrou said she was horrified at the sight of people running towards traffic. She said some hid behind trees and other covers.
“People were running for their lives,” she said. “They were running in all directions—it was pandemonium.”
Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney, who called the shooting an act of “cowardice,” addressed the tragedy during a news conference Tuesday evening.
“This is tragic but also traumatic because this is their graduation day,” Stoney said. “Is nothing sacred any longer? This should not be happening anywhere, whether it’s in Richmond, whether it’s in Virginia, whether it’s in the United States, this should not be happening anywhere. A child should be able to go to their graduation and walk at their graduation and enjoy the accomplishment.”
All Richmond public schools will be closed Wednesday.