US gun violence: Virginia graduation ceremony shooting leaves 2 dead, 5 injured

A shooting outside a high school graduation venue in Richmond, Virginia has left two Americans dead and five others injured as rampant gun violence continues to traumatize the people across the country.

Richmond’s Interim Police Chief Rick Edwards said on Tuesday that a gunman opened fire as hundreds of people stood outside around Richmond’s Monroe Park after a high school graduation ceremony, killing two people and wounding five others.

The Huguenot High School’s graduation ceremony was held in the Altria Theater across the street from Monroe Park.

Police took into custody a 19-year-old suspect who had fled the scene on foot, but was shortly after stopped and detained by Virginia Commonwealth University police.

Police investigators believe the suspect to be linked to one of the victims. He had four handguns, three of which may have been fired, on him when he was arrested after the incident.

Edwards said police will recommend two counts of second-degree murder in addition to other offenses against the suspect.

According to Edwards, an 18-year-old student, who had graduated on Tuesday, and a 36-year-old man who had attended the ceremony, were killed in the shooting. A WWBT television news report said the victims were father and son.

Besides the two killed, five others – a 14-year-old boy and four men ranging in age from 31 to 58 – suffered gunshot wounds. Four of those injured had sustained non-life-threatening injuries.

Edwards described the shooter as a “disgusting and cowardly” person who was reportedly in a dispute with just one person. “When you have a crowd like this, innocent people are going to be caught up in the mayhem, and that’s what happened today.”

“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,” the police chief said.

Richmond Mayor Levar M. Stoney said at the first news conference that whoever was involved in the incident would be brought to justice, “not just for the families involved, but for the city.”

Gun violence is epidemic in the United States, with both gun-related homicides and suicides reaching record levels in 2021, leading to nearly 49,000 total firearm deaths.

Mass shootings in public places such as schools, shopping centers and churches have traumatized many Americans — particularly women, children and the elderly — in past years.

Since the beginning of the year, there have been 279 mass shootings in the country, according to the Gun Violence Archive.

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