Richmond police said late Wednesday they have a lead in a shooting that prompted a school lockdown after a 14-year-old boy was shot near campus earlier in the day.
The shooting near John F. Kennedy High School, which occurred at 8:30 a.m., was likely caused by a dispute between several people and not gang-related, according to Richmond Police Lt. Shawn Pickett. The boy was shot in the leg near a park across the street, then ran to the school for help, Pickett said.
John F. Kennedy was briefly locked down — students arriving and those already on campus were not allowed to leave, according to spokeswoman Sgt. Nicole Abetkov said. Nobody else was injured and classes proceeded as usual.
Coronado Elementary School, which is being housed temporarily on the high school campus, also was on lockdown after the shooting.
The chaos erupted as a school resource officer received a call about a fight taking place at John F. Kennedy Park, across the street from the school, police said. At the same time, police received reports of shots fired near South 41st and Cutting, and the school resource officer saw a boy run toward the campus.
Following the shooting, parents and other relatives of students converged, eager to take their children home.
“I need to take my grandson home,” said Sylvia Whitley, 63, who said she dropped him off at the school then heard about the shooting on the news when she returned home. “There’s going to be retaliation. That’s how it’s done in this town. I don’t want him to be part of the crowd after school.
Whitley’s grandson, Emon Hopkins, said he could hear the gunshots from his classroom.
“Everybody was scared because it came out of nowhere,” the freshman said. “Everybody was screaming.”
Students typically congregate at the park and the nearby corner, where there is a bus stop, before and after school. Extra police units were on hand when the final bell rang at 3:20 p.m. Patrol cars were positioned on both ends of the campus and on adjacent streets, and two police cars were at the park, where a few dozen students waited for rides in the shade. Freshman Carlos Sanders, who said he knows the victim, said added security is needed on campus and in surrounding neighborhoods where students trek on their way to and from school.
“I don’t feel safe,” the 15-year-old said after school. “There’s too many shootings up here.”
Richmond police Chief Chris Magnus also was at the scene and said the shooting doesn’t appear connected to the school.
The shooting came two days after a 25-year-old man was shot several times in the chest in the Iron Triangle. That man survived. On May 4, Lester Williams III was shot to death after an argument between neighbors erupted into violence.