Two men, 18 and 36, have been shot dead in a mass shooting at a Virginia high school graduation as seven are hospitalized.
Cops took two into custody following the deadly incident, but have arrested one gunman, 19, who they say is ‘known to one of the victims.’
Local reports claim bystanders heard ’20 bangs’ causing the ‘hundreds’ in attendance to seek shelter from the spray of bullets as police swarmed the Altria Theater in Richmond just after 5.00pm on Tuesday afternoon.
Images and video from the scene show multiple law enforcement officers securing the area with police tape with authorities warning people to ‘avoid the area’ as students wept following the vicious attack.
Police took two people into custody following the deadly shooting in Virginia – but have arrested one gunman, 19, who they say is ‘known to one of the victims’
School board member Jonathan Young told 8News that there were ‘multiple injuries’ at the Huguenot High School ceremony scheduled to start at 4pm.
He told CBS 6: ‘We immediately heard a series of probably 20 loud bangs in consecutive order.
‘And that prompted of course a lot of persons, probably a few 100 persons to make a rush back inside the Altria… controlled chaos.’
As he heard the gunshots and then sirens, neighbor John Willard, 69, stepped onto the balcony of his 18th-floor apartment to see what was happening below, according to Associated Press.
He saw students fleeing in their graduation outfits and parents hugging children.
‘There was one poor woman in front of the apartment block next to ours who was wailing and crying,’ Willard said, adding that the scene left him deeply saddened.
Edythe Payne was helping her daughter sell flowers outside the theater to students as they left the ceremony.
She told the Richmond Times-Dispatch that the shooting caused a panic on nearby Main Street, which was packed with people at the time.
‘I felt bad because some elderly people were at the graduation and they got knocked down to the ground,’ Payne said.
Two men, 18 and 36, have been shot dead in a mass shooting at a Virginia high school graduation as seven are hospitalized
Images and video from the scene show multiple law enforcement securing the area. People were advised to avoid the area
Governor of Virginia Glenn Youngkin said on Facebook: ‘My administration continues monitoring the terrible shooting in the heart of Richmond tonight.
‘State law enforcement are fully supporting the Richmond Police Department as this investigation moves forward.’
Richmond Mayor Levar M. Stoney released a statement on Twitter about the situation.
‘Currently monitoring the situation at Monroe Park. In touch with RPD and RPS. Will make information available as it comes in. Please avoid the area,’ Stoney’s tweet reads.
He told CBS 6: ‘Children were involved here… this is their graduation day.
‘The question that comes to my mind right now is, is nothing sacred any longer? Is nothing sacred any longer?’
‘A child should be able to go to their graduation and walk out the graduation and enjoy the accomplishment with their friends and their families.
‘It’s a selfish act. It’s a senseless act. And to me, it’s cowardice.’
Richmond Police tweeted: ‘RPD is on scene for a shooting located at Laurel Street and Franklin Street. Multiple injuries reported.
‘There is no immediate threat to the public. Briefing to follow. Avoid the area.’
It’s believed ‘kids were taking graduation photos’ as the shooter opened fire
Three schools were scheduled to have graduation ceremonies at the Altria Theater on Tuesday when the alert by VCU went out at 5.15pm
Richmond Public Schools will be closed tomorrow following the shooting incident.
Three schools were scheduled to have graduation ceremonies at the Altria Theater on Tuesday when the alert by VCU went out at 5.15pm.
Interim Chief Rick Edwards, Mayor Lever Stoney and Superintendent Jason Kamras will host a media briefing at 9pm.
At an earlier briefing, Edwards also confirmed two people were injured by falls, 1 person was hit by a car and three people self-transported to hospital for anxiety.
DailyMail.com has contacted Richmond Police, VCU and Huguenot High School for comment.