RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – Grief and sadness are continuing to overwhelm a family who was present during the tragedy of Tuesday’s deadly shooting at a high school graduation at the Altria Theater.
A graduate and his stepfather were killed, and more than a dozen people were injured when shots erupted around 5:15 p.m. on June 6.
That trauma from Tuesday is especially fresh for people who were at the graduation. This includes Barbara Eason, whose family was at the Altria for the Huguenot High School graduation.
Eason had around 10 family members who were present at the time of the shooting, including her daughter, Ty, who said she was close friends with Shawn Jackson, the 18-year-old who was killed just minutes after being handed his diploma. Eason said Jackson’s death had an impact not only on his own family but also on those who knew and cared for him.
“We’re grieving,” Eason said. “And the people that are shooting, they don’t realize that they are taking someone from us, and it changes the dynamic of our family.”
Ty graduated from high school during the pandemic and had a virtual graduation. So, Eason said her daughter was excited to be at the Altria Theater for Tuesday’s events and to see the students graduate.
“They were leaving out of the building just before they exited, they embraced each other, and they congratulated each other on the success of graduation and wished each other good luck for the future,” Eason remembered.
Eason said her daughter is traumatized by the tragic events and instead of looking to the future, she’s preparing to bury her friend. Eason says she knows things could have gone differently in the blink of an eye.
“Just to think that I had so many family members that were close to the gunfire,” Eason said. “If the gun would have shifted in any way, we could have been burying nine or 10 of our family members. So, thank God that he protected them.”
Eason worries about where her kids go when they are not with her and that the gun violence in the community is beyond unbelievable.
“We always see it on TV we never think that it’s going to happen to our family, but it did,” Eason said. “It happened to our family, and it makes it real. My heart goes out to the mother who lost her son and his stepfather.“
Richmond police arrested and charged 19-year-old Amari Pollard, of Henrico, for the deadly shooting. He was taken into custody shortly after the shooting and has since been charged with second-degree murder in connection to the death of Jackson and his stepfather, Renzo Smith.
A prayer vigil took place on Thursday night at Grace & Holy Trinity and another prayer vigil is scheduled for Sunday, June 11 at 4 p.m. in Monroe Park.