1 of 2 | Two people are dead and five injured in a shooting following Huguenot High School's graduation Tuesday in Richmond, Virginia, according to police who arrested a 19-year-old suspect. Photo courtesy of Richmond Public Schools
June 6 (UPI) -- Two people were killed and five injured following a high school graduation Tuesday in Virginia, according to Richmond Police who arrested a 19-year-old suspect.
The two men who died in the shooting were identified as an 18-year-old student and a 36-year-old attending the ceremony, according to Richmond Police interim chief Rick Edwards.
"We think the suspect knew at least one of the victims," Edwards told reporters. While police took a second person into custody after the shooting, officers no longer believe they were involved.
The gunfire started at about 5:15 p.m., just as the graduation ceremony for Huguenot High School in Richmond was concluding, according to three off-duty officers who were working security. Police responded to the scene inside and outside the Altria Theater where the ceremony was held.
Richmond Public Schools official Matthew Stanley said the shooting happened at Monroe Park, which is across the street from the theater on the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University. Text alerts were sent urging people to stay inside and avoid the area.
"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," VCU said in a campus wide alert.
"There is no ongoing threat to the community but there is a heavy police presence at Monroe Park."
In addition to the seven shot, several other people were injured including one person who was hit by a car during the panic to escape.
Three schools were scheduled to hold their graduation ceremonies Tuesday at the Altria Theater, according to Richmond Public Schools' website.
"We have canceled a graduation ceremony from another school scheduled later this evening," the website stated.
The district also announced that all schools would be closed on Wednesday.
"Tonight, after the Huguenot High School graduation ceremony, a shooting took place outside in Monroe Park. Out of an abundance of caution, RPS will close all schools tomorrow, Wednesday, June 7," the district said in a statement.
Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney told reporters Tuesday he was offering prayers to the victims, their families and to "the children" who expected to celebrate their graduation.
"This is tragic, but also traumatic because this is their graduation," Stoney said. "The question that comes to mind right now is: Is nothing sacred any longer?"