A man armed with four handguns killed two people and wounded five others when he fired into a crowd outside a high school graduation ceremony in Richmond, Virginia on Tuesday, police said.
Police said they arrested one suspect, a 19-year-old man who knew one of the victims and shot at him amid the crowd that had just emerged from the Huguenot High School’s commencement ceremony inside a theatre on the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University.
The suspect was likely to be charged with two counts of second-degree murder in addition to other offences, interim Richmond Police Chief Rick Edwards told a press conference.
Edwards called the shooter’s behaviour “disgusting and cowardly,” since his dispute appeared to be 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,” Edwards said.
“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 United States has grown accustomed to mass shootings in public places such as schools, shopping centres and churches.
The mass shooting was the country’s 279th in the first 157 days of 2023, according to the Gun Violence Archive, using the definition of four or more people being shot or killed in a single incident, not including the shooter.
The deceased were men aged 18 and 36, Edwards said. He did not confirm a WWBT television news report that the victims were father and son.
Among the wounded, a 31-year-old man suffered life-threatening injuries and four other males aged 14, 32, 55 and 58 were expected to survive, Edwards said.
In addition, a 9-year-old girl was struck by a car in the chaos that ensued, and multiple other people were injured in falls or suffered from anxiety, Edwards said.
The suspect fled the scene on foot and was captured in possession of four handguns, three of which may have been fired, he said, stressing that it was too early in the investigation to be certain.