One of the relatives said that the parents were so happy about their son's achievements that they even got him custom-made shirts for the graduation ceremony.
Trigger warning: The following article contains details of gun violence which some readers may find distressing.
An 18-year-old graduating senior and his father were killed in a shooting after the former's high school graduation in Richmond. The victims have been identified as Shawn Jackson, 18, and his father, Renzo Smith, 36, and police say the suspect knows the two, according to PEOPLE. A 19-year-old suspect shot rounds outside the Huguenot High School graduation ceremony in Richmond, Virginia, and also wounded five others. The motive for the shooting remains under investigation. Amari Ty-Jon Pollard has been arrested in connection with the shooting and he has been charged with second-degree murder, according to WWBT.
The two people who were fatally shot outside a graduation ceremony in Richmond, VA yesterday have been identified as Shawn Jackson, 18, and his stepfather, Lorenzo “Renzo” Smith, 36. Shawn’s 9-year-old sister was struck by a car amid the chaos. Five other people were wounded by… pic.twitter.com/S1ZXFTVZCS— Moms Demand Action (@MomsDemand) June 7, 2023
“We were exiting the building when we heard about 20 gunshots in rapid succession,” said school board member Johnathan Young. Many people trampled others as they ran for their lives outside Richmond’s city-owned Altria Theatre, which is located on the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University. Currently, a 31-year-old remains hospitalized with life-threatening gunshot wounds, along with four others—a 14-year-old male, a 32-year-old male, a 55-year-old male, and a 58-year-old male—who suffered non-life-threatening gunshot wounds. “Tired of seeing people get shot. Our kids get shot,” said RPS Superintendent Jason Kamras. “And I beg of the entire community to stop, to just stop it.”
“I was very proud of him,” Tameeka Jackson-Smith said while struggling to speak through her tears. “He was struggling in school, and he came back and he actually did it,” per NBC News. Her sister, Datrell Glover, said that the dad and son were "very close” and Renzo was “so happy and proud” of his son’s achievements. The parents even got custom-made shirts made for the graduation ceremony.
Father, 36, and Son, 18, Shot and Killed Walking Out of Boy's High School Graduation in Virginia https://t.co/mN2atDXwNC— People (@people) June 7, 2023
"I'd like to just express my concerns and sympathy for those who have lost their lives today, and those whose lives were forever changed," Interim Richmond Police Chief Rick Edwards said. "We prepare for an event like this, and we prepared for it with our partners and hoped that this day wouldn't come, but it came to Richmond today."
The endless stories of gun violence have been rattling communities around the country. So many children have lost their lives to shootings in America over the years. "Children were involved here... this is their graduation day," Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney said. "The question that comes to my mind right now is, is nothing sacred any longer? Is nothing sacred any longer?"
From today’s press conf on the deadly shooting outside Huguenot High HS graduation at Altria theater.— Reba Hollingsworth (@RebaCBS6) June 7, 2023
-Deceased 18 y/o Shawn Jackson, 36 y/o Renzo Smith. Step father/son.
-Suspect 19 y/o Amari Pollard from Henrico.
-Pollard-Jackson knew each other. Ongoing dispute. pic.twitter.com/xTEn1zkXwZ
Another parent at the ceremony Jeremy Evans told WWBT he was at the graduation with his daughter. “I look at this scenario like we’re supposed to be happy about people graduating,” Evans said. “We’re supposed to be supporting one another, holding one another, loving one another, and then a shooting happens. Come on now. I just think it’s bad. We have to do better.”
School board member Johnathan Young added, “Absolute disgust. I’ll do my best not to introduce politics to this conversation, but the truth is that we as a people are tolerating the intolerable."
Cover Image Source: YouTube | ABC 7 Chicago