A man armed with four handguns killed two people and wounded five others when he fired into a crowd after a high school graduation ceremony in the United States city of Richmond, Virginia, police have said.
Police said they arrested one suspect, a 19-year-old man, in relation to the shooting on Tuesday near a theatre where the graduation ceremony had taken place adjacent to 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.
“As they heard the gunfire, it was obviously chaos,” he said. “We had hundreds of people in Monroe Park, so people scattered. It was very chaotic at the scene.”
Edwards called the attacker’s behaviour “disgusting and cowardly”, since his dispute appeared to be with just one person.
The deceased were men aged 18 and 36, Edwards said. Their names were not released, but police believe the suspect, who was not immediately identified, knew at least one of the victims.
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 nine-year-old girl was struck by a car in the chaos that ensued, while 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, Edwards said, stressing that it was too early in the investigation to be certain.
Police initially said two suspects were detained, but Edwards said later that they determined one of them was not involved.
Richmond Public Schools said in a message on its website that the shooting took place in Monroe Park, which is across the street from the theatre and adjacent to the college campus, after a graduation ceremony for Huguenot High School.
Richmond Public Schools Superintendent Jason Kamras said the graduation ceremony had ended and the new graduates were outside, taking photos with their families and friends when the shooting broke out.
“I don’t have any more words on this,” Kamras said. “I’m just tired of seeing people get shot, our kids get shot. And I beg of the entire community to stop, to just stop.”
The US has grown accustomed to mass shootings in public places such as schools, shopping centres and churches.