Two killed, five more wounded in targeted shooting following high school graduation in Richmond

 June 8, 2023

There was a mass shooting following a high school graduation ceremony in Richmond, Virginia on Tuesday that left two dead and five others injured from the gunfire as well as minor injuries suffered by several others in the crowd amid the ensuing chaos, Breitbart reported.

This was not a typical mass shooting, however, as the shooter, who is now in custody and facing criminal charges, was specifically targeting one particular individual but ultimately hit multiple others with indiscriminate gunfire aimed toward the intended victim.

Two killed, five others wounded by gunfire

ABC News reported that the incident on Tuesday occurred shortly after 5 pm in Richmond's Monroe Park after the graduation ceremony for Huguenot High School had concluded in the nearby Altria Theater which was hosting several such ceremonies that day.

The two deceased victims were identified as Shawn Jackson, 18, who had just received his diploma, and Jackson's father, Renzo Smith, 36, who was celebrating the achievement with his son.

Five other individuals, including four adults and a 14-year-old boy, were also injured with gunshot wounds, and numerous others suffered relatively minor and non-life-threatening injuries in the post-shooting scramble, including Jackson's 9-year-old sister, who was hit by a car.

"I didn't know Shawn, but I shook his hand and wished him congratulations about 20 minutes before he died," Jason Kamras, the superintendent of Richmond Public Schools, said during a news conference on Wednesday. "Those who did know Shawn described him as bubbly and the life of the party."

"Getting to the graduation stage was not easy for Shawn, nevertheless, he did it, and he was rightly proud, smiling and celebrating like all of his peers," the school official added. "Then, just a few minutes later while enjoying the moment with his family in Monroe Park, he was gunned down. I can't shake the image of him receiving CPR on the ground, still in his graduation gown."

Shooter charged with two counts of murder, will likely face additional charges

Local ABC affiliate WRIC reported that the suspect was taken into custody shortly after the shooting and is being held in jail without bond was identified as Amari Ty-Jon Pollard, 19, who has now been charged with two counts of second-degree murder during a Wednesday court hearing, and will likely face additional charges.

According to the Richmond Police, Pollard was at the graduation ceremony in support of somebody else but afterward ran into Jackson, with whom he allegedly had an ongoing dispute, and engaged in an "interaction" that prompted him to go retrieve a handgun from his vehicle and then return to open fire on the victim.

Acting Police Chief Rick Edwards said officers at the ceremony heard the gunshots and immediately rushed to the scene of the shooting, where they reportedly recovered four handguns and took two individuals into custody, including Pollard, though the other person was subsequently released once it was determined that they were uninvolved in the incident.

Shooter specifically targeted victim with whom he had an "ongoing dispute"

Local media outlet WSB-TV reported that Acting Chief Edwards said during a Wednesday news conference, "This is a mass shooting, but we don’t believe it was what’s typically referred to as an active shooter," given the determination that "This was targeted at one individual."

He noted the "ongoing dispute" for more than a year between the shooter and the targeted victim but declined to provide any details on what the conflict was about, and also stated that there was no evidence, at least as of yet, that either individual was involved in gang activity.

"This is still a fluid situation," Edwards said at another point. "We’re hours into the investigation and we will learn more as we go."

As for the others who suffered injuries, the acting chief pointed out that "When you have a crowd like this, innocent people are going to be caught up in the mayhem, and that’s what happened today," and added, "Obviously, this should have been a safe space ... It’s just incredibly tragic that someone decided to bring a gun to this incident and rain terror on our community."

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