School, state leaders react to Monroe Park shooting that killed 2, injured 5

Published: Jun. 6, 2023 at 11:25 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 7, 2023 at 12:41 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) -Richmond school leaders aren’t holding back their emotions tonight after a shooting that took place after a high school graduation killed two and injured five. They’re sad and angry.

Many RPS school leaders were walking out of the Altria Theater after handing out diplomas to happy graduates when the chaos ensued.

“We were exiting the building when we heard about 20 gunshots in rapid succession,” said school board member Johnathan Young.

Young says he witnessed several people trampled as everyone ran for their lives.

NBC12′s Henry Graff confirmed one Hugenot High School graduate and his father died in the shooting.

Another RPS student lost to gun violence after a concerning pattern of violence within the school system.

“Tired of seeing people get shot. Our kids get shot,” said RPS Superintendent Jason Kamras. “And I beg of the entire community to stop, to just stop it.”

This shooting comes after two teenagers were shot outside in the parking lot of George Wythe High School a few weeks ago. Weeks prior, in March, four RPS students were shot in one weekend, and one of them died.

“Right when you thought it couldn’t get worse,” Young said.

There have also been several incidents of students bringing guns to school.

“Our kids can’t take it. Our teachers can’t take it,” Kamras said. “Our families can’t take it anymore. I’m begging you to stop.”

Young urges his fellow board members and leaders to do more, including taking threat assessments more seriously. He says what occurred on this graduation day should never happen again.

“Absolute disgust. I’ll do my best not to introduce politics to this conversation, but the truth is that we as a people are tolerating the intolerable,” Young said.

Virginia’s elected leaders are also offering their prayers tonight after the tragedy that unfolded Tuesday evening, with reactions pouring in from all over the Commonwealth.

“As we struggle to fully comprehend this tragedy, our hearts break for those whose lives were lost today,” Governor Glenn Youngkin said in a statement. “Tonight, we grieve together for their classmates, our neighbors, and the Richmond community.”

“My heart breaks for the senseless and cowardly act of violence last night that took the lives of a graduate and his father just moments after walking across the stage to accept his high school diploma,” Lt. Governor Winsome Earle-Sears said in a statement.

“This is heartbreaking,” said Congresswoman Jennifer McClellan. “My staff and I are closely monitoring this situation. Praying for the safety of everyone involved.”

“Closely monitoring this situation in Richmond said Senator Mark Warner. “This is an extremely alarming situation, and I’m thinking of all first responders and victims.”

“My heart breaks to see this horrific tragedy in my hometown. I’m sickened that a high school graduation—an occasion that should be joyous—has turned into unimaginable violence,” said Senator Tim Kaine in a tweet.

“Graduations should be times of happiness and celebration,” said VCU President Michael Rao. “Today’s shooting is heart-wrenching and shocking. I send my most sincere prayers to everyone involved on behalf of all of VCU.”