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Father and 18-Year-Old Son Shot and Killed at Virginia High School Graduation

An 18-year-old who had just graduated and his father were killed in a shooting Tuesday after a high school graduation ceremony on the Virginia Commonwealth University campus, Richmond police said.

Wearing shirts bearing their son’s face, Renzo Smith and his wife swelled with pride as they watched their 18-year-old senior receive his high school diploma after overcoming challenges in the classroom.

“I was very proud of him. He was struggling in school, and he came back and he actually did it.”

Tameeka Jackson-Smith said of her son, Shawn Jackson.

Then, moments later, the celebration was abruptly cut short as shots rang out at Virginia Commonwealth University, scattering hundreds in the crowd who had gathered on campus for Huguenot High School’s graduation ceremony in Richmond, Virginia.

The new graduate and his father were killed Tuesday evening, and five others were wounded, police said.

The suspect attempted to flee the scene but was stopped by VCU police.

Police arrested Amari Ty-Jon Pollard in connection with the shooting and charged him with second-degree murder. Richmond City Jail records reviewed show the teen is being held without bond.

“People should have felt safe at a graduation,” Interim Richmond Police Chief Rick Edwards said.

“It’s just incredibly tragic that someone decided to bring a gun to this incident and rain terror on our community.”

The shooting happened outside Richmond’s city-owned Altria Theatre, which is located on the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University.

The ceremony had been taking place inside the theater. Moments after it ended, graduates and their families were walking outside the theater to take pictures when the shooting began.

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Written by Darnell Simmons

Investigative Journalist, social analysis