RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — An investigation is underway in Richmond after two George Wythe High School students suffered apparent gunshot wounds during an on-campus shooting Thursday.
Authorities said that the shootings happened in the school’s parking lot but officers — on scene shortly after noon — said that they found a male student in the woods off-campus with a life-threatening injury. According to a release, another male student was driven to the hospital in a personal vehicle, also with an apparent gunshot wound, but it was non-life-threatening.
Richmond Police Department (RPD) Acting Chief of Police Rick Edwards said Thursday that authorities believed there were multiple suspects, but only one shooter. Sources told 8News on Friday that the shooter and victims knew each other.
Police identified the victims as George Wythe High School students on Thursday, but noted that it was unknown whether the students were in school at some point earlier in the day prior to the shooting. Friday afternoon, authorities added that detectives had “no indication a firearm was in the school yesterday.” Sources also said that both victims had undergone surgery and were recovering, but that one student was still fighting for his life.
As of Friday afternoon, RPD detectives had not released information regarding the circumstances or motive for this incident. But sources said that the shootings may have been retribution for other neighborhood issues.
Although classes resumed Friday, sources said that several students were absent. There was a visible police presence outside the school the day after the shootings.
“You just have people that [have] a lot of personal situations, a lot of home situations that are causing people to be angry or to settle beefs,” community activist Cruz Sherman said. “We don’t know about conflict resolution. That’s what we’re missing: conflict resolutions, how to handle our disagreements without violence.”
Sherman — who also serves as a chaplain with RPD — founded Virginians in Action in response to the April 2021 shooting deaths of Sharnez and Neziah Hill, the mother and infant who were fatally wounded in the courtyard of the Belt Atlantic Apartment complex, located across the street from George Wythe High School.
Although sources said that the incidents were unrelated, just hours after Thursday’s shooting at the school, there was another shooting at the Belt Atlantic. Victim Marcus Dobson, 40, was taken to the hospital and died from his injuries Thursday night, police said.
“How have we progressed?” Sherman said. “You almost feel like a failure sometimes because it keeps happening again and again, and in the same neighborhood; sometimes, in the same community. You just feel helpless.”
Edwards said Thursday that law enforcement partners with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), United State Marshals Service and the Chesterfield County Police Department (CCPD) were assisting with the investigation at Wythe, along with Richmond Public Schools (RPS) security.
“We’re talking with witnesses. We’re interviewing subjects. We are reviewing camera footage, and we are trying to get to the bottom of what happened,” the acting chief said. “There’s cameras on the school itself. There’s cameras on local businesses. We even have cameras on certain buses. So, all of that’s being reviewed at this time, in hopes that we can identify the perpetrators.”
The shooting at Wythe and the shooting at the Belt Atlantic are being handled by two different detectives, according to an RPD spokesperson. Anyone with information about either incidents is urged to call Crime Stoppers at 804-780-1000 for anonymous reporting.