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High school graduate gunned down minutes after receiving his diploma, his father dead too after teen suspect opened fire outside Virginia ceremony: 'They knew each other and had an ongoing dispute'

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Composite screenshot of WFAA YouTube video (Left: Shawn Jackson | Right: Lorenzo Smith, Jackson's father or stepfather)

A young man in Virginia who had just walked across the stage to receive his high school diploma died just minutes after the ceremony ended when a teen with whom he had "an ongoing dispute" allegedly opened fire into the crowd of celebrating graduates and their families.

Just after 5 p.m. on Tuesday evening, members of Huguenot High School's class of 2023 and their friends and family gathered outside the Altria Theater in Richmond to celebrate a major milestone: high school graduation. Sadly, this moment of joy and celebration soon turned deadly when a series of gunshots rang out at a nearby park.

Shortly after the violent outburst ended, two people were pronounced dead: 18-year-old Shawn Jackson and his 36-year-old father, Lorenzo "Renzo" Smith. Richmond Public Schools Superintendent Jason Kamras, who had shaken Jackson's hand on stage just 20 minutes earlier, later recalled the horrific image of seeing Jackson "receiving CPR" while "still in his graduation gown."

"This is supposed to be a joyous day when our kids walk the stage and get their diplomas," Kamras added. "... Then this tragedy occurred. I don't have any more words on this. I'm tired of seeing people get shot. Our kids get shot. And I beg of the entire community to stop, to just stop."

Virginia graduation shooting: Father and son identified as victims killedwww.youtube.com

According to Tameeka Jackson-Smith, the wife and mother of the two deceased victims, Jackson and Smith weren't the only members of her family hurt in the incident. As soon as the shooting began, the 9-year-old daughter she shared with Smith was hit by a car during the ensuing panic. "I had my daughter beside me, and I saw her get hit by a car," Jackson-Smith said. "My niece almost got hit by a car. I was trying to grab them."

The young girl was taken to the hospital with leg injuries and has since been released. Thankfully, the other five victims wounded during the incident, ranging in age from 14 to 58, likewise suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

Despite the melee created by the shooting, police almost immediately identified and arrested a suspect: 19-year-old Amari Pollard. According to reports, Pollard and Jackson had had "an ongoing dispute" for about a year. Police believe that Pollard attended the graduation ceremony, confronted Jackson afterward, then went to his vehicle to retrieve a handgun and began firing after Jackson walked over to Monroe Park to reunite with the rest of his family.

"They knew each other," Richmond Police Chief Rick Edwards claimed, adding, "This was targeted at one individual. ... That’s what we know at this time." Edwards stated that he had not yet seen any indication that the shooting was gang-related.

Pollard was charged with two counts of second-degree murder and was ordered to be held without bond. He claimed in court that he would hire a private attorney.

Jackson-Smith shared fond memories of her husband and son. She claimed that Jackson was a sports enthusiast who had to overcome many challenges in order to graduate from high school. "He was so happy — oh my God — because he got to graduate," she said. "He worked hard."

She also remembered her husband, whom she called Jackson's father but whom Police Chief Edwards referred to as Jackson's stepfather, as "a caregiver" who was "so sweet." "He was just everything that you could wish for in a person," she said.

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