Law enforcement officers investigate at the scene after a gunman opened fire in the US state of Virginia. Reuters
Gulf Today Report
Seven people were shot, two fatally, when gunfire rang out Tuesday outside a downtown theater in Richmond, Virginia, where a high school graduation ceremony had just ended, causing hundreds of attendees to flee in panic, weep and clutch their children, authorities and witnesses said.
A 19-year-old suspect tried to escape on foot but was arrested and will be charged with two counts of second-degree murder, Interim Richmond Police Chief Rick Edwards said during a nighttime news conference at which he confirmed the two fatalities.
Five others were wounded by the gunfire outside the state capital's city-owned Altria Theater, which is across the street from a large, grassy park and in the middle of the Virginia Commonwealth University campus. At least 12 others were injured or treated for anxiety due to the mayhem, according to police.
Richmond Interim Chief of Police Rick Edwards gives a news briefing about a shooting in Richmond, Virginia. AP
The shooting took place around 5 pm (2100 GMT) outside a theater in the state capital of Richmond, where students from a local high school were celebrating their graduation, Richmond interim police chief Rick Edwards told reporters.
The deceased included an 18-year-old graduate and a 36-year-old man, he added.
Of the five injured, one remained in critical condition.
"People scattered, it was very chaotic at the scene," Edwards said.
"As they heard the gunfire, it was obviously chaos," Edwards said. "We had hundreds of people in Monroe Park, so people scattered. It was very chaotic at the scene.”
Edwards said one of the people who was killed was an 18-year-old male student who had just graduated, while the other was a 36-year-old man who was there for the graduation. Their names were not released, but police believe the suspect, who was not immediately identified, knew at least one of the victims.
"This should have been a safe space. People should have felt safe at a graduation,” Edwards said.
"It’s just incredibly tragic that someone decided to bring a gun to this incident and rain terror on our community.”
Police vehicles are seen parked near a park where, according to the police in Richmond, Virginia, US. Reuters
The official did not name a possible motive for the crime, but said the suspect knew at least one of the victims.
Several handguns were recovered from the scene.
With more firearms than inhabitants, the United States has the highest rate of gun deaths of any developed country -- 49,000 in 2021, up from 45,000 the year before.
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