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7 shot outside a high school graduation ceremony in Virginia capital

Seven people were shot – leaving three with life-threatening wounds – on the evening of June 6, 2023, outside a theater where a high school graduation ceremony was taking place, Richmond, Virginia's interim police chief said. (Image from Video/WTVR via CNN)

(CNN) — Seven people were shot – leaving three with life-threatening wounds – Tuesday evening outside a theater where a high school graduation ceremony had just taken place in Richmond, Virginia, the city’s interim police chief said.

Two people have been taken into custody, the interim chief, Rick Edwards, said.

The shooting happened in Richmond’s Monroe Park after Huguenot High School’s graduation ceremony, which took place in the nearby Altria Theater, Richmond Public Schools official Matthew Stanley said. The park is on Virginia Commonwealth University’s campus, across the street from the theater.

Three off-duty officers were working security at the ceremony and heard gunshots outside just before 5:15 p.m. ET. They radioed a call of shots fired and other officers who were working traffic duty responded, the interim police chief said.

They found the seven victims with gunshot wounds and other people who suffered injuries from causes other than gunshots, including one person who was hit by a car in the chaos following the gunfire, Edwards said.

“Is nothing sacred any longer? Is nothing sacred any longer?” Richmond Mayor Levar M. Stoney said at a news conference.

The mayor promised the assailants would be brought to justice, “not just for the families involved but for the city.”

A different high school’s graduation ceremony that was scheduled for the theater after the Huguenot High ceremony has been canceled, Stanley said. Graduation ceremonies for three schools were scheduled at Altria Theater on Tuesday, according to the school system’s website.

The graduation ceremony had ended, and graduates were outside taking photos with their families when the shooting happened, Richmond Public Schools Superintendent Jason Kamras said.

“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.”

An alert sent at 5:15 p.m. by Virginia Commonwealth University says a shooting happened at Monroe Park. About an hour later, the alert page said there was no ongoing threat.