OAN’s Brooke Mallory
5:37 PM – Wednesday, June 7, 2023
A father and son were killed in the Virginia high school graduation ceremony shooting on Tuesday, according to authorities and family members who were present at the scene. The 19-year-old assailant, Amari Ty-Jon Pollard, was arraigned on Wednesday morning.
According to Richmond’s top prosecutor Colette McEachin, Jon Pollard of Henrico, Virginia, was charged with two counts of second-degree murder. The court postponed the matter to a date later this month when Pollard stated that he planned to employ legal representation.
Officials decided to hold Pollard without bond. The Associated Press reported that no attorney has been listed yet to represent him in court.
Following the deaths of Shawn Jackson, 18, and Jackson’s stepfather, Renzo Smith, 36, Pollard is still in the custody of the City of Richmond Sheriff’s Office, according to online detention records.
Tameeka Jackson-Smith, the mother and spouse of the victims, spoke to the media and also claimed that during the ensuing mayhem, a car hit her 9-year-old daughter that she shared with the now-deceased man. She explained that her daughter had her leg injuries addressed at the hospital and will be recovering.
Jackson-Smith also asserted that as her family left the graduation, they lost each other in the sizable crowd of people.
“He was so happy — oh my God — because he got to graduate. He worked hard,” she said.
The mother explained that she saw a man run up behind her husband and son and then began firing as she was heading toward them in the nearby park.
“I don’t know if he was shooting at everybody because so many people got shot all over in the area. There were like seven people on the ground,” Jackson-Smith said.
On behalf of the family, a local organization called United Communities Against Crime first disclosed the names of the two fatal victims.
The Huguenot High School graduation ceremony was held at the city-owned Altria Theater in the state capital, which is located in the middle of the Virginia Commonwealth University campus and across the street from a large park, according to interim police chief Rick Edwards.
After Jon Pollard left the theatre, he then started shooting, but was soon taken down by VCU Police nearby, according to Edwards.
Police reportedly believe that the perpetrator knew at least one of the victims, but they have not suggested any specific motive. Seven persons were shot in all, including the two fatalities. Police said the other five people were all males between the ages of 14 and 58.
According to Edwards, just one victim, a 31-year-old unnamed man, was still in critical condition with an injury that posed a serious risk of death. The other four victims all sustained less serious wounds.
Winsome Earle-Sears, the lieutenant governor of Virginia, talked to the press on Tuesday night and mentioned how Richmond, Virginia, is rife with “gang activities” and “criminal activities.”
“This is not about law-abiding gun owners. This is about gangs,” she said, pushing back against those calling for stricter gun control.
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