1. Heritage High School in Newport News was evacuated yesterday morning after two students were shot.
Police were notified of the incident shortly after 11:30 am. In a press conference, Newport News Police Chief Steve Drew confirmed that both victims are 17-year old students. The male student was shot in the face, and the female was shot in the leg. Neither injury is considered life-threatening. “I thank God for that,” Drew said.
At least two other students were transported to area hospitals as a result of the incident. One student sprained or broke an arm during the evacuation, and another experienced asthma-related breathing issues.
2. The suspect has been taken into custody.
The suspected shooter – a juvenile – was taken into custody after a search effort that lasted approximately two hours. Police have not yet confirmed if the suspect is a student. Details about how or where he was apprehended have also not been released.
Federal resources were quickly deployed to the area to assist the Newport News Police Department, Drew said. The FBI, state police, numerous federal agencies, the fire department and paramedics were all deployed as part of the response.
Police confirmed that evidence was recovered at the scene and elsewhere on the school grounds. Immediately after the shooting, Heritage High School and several other area schools were locked down as a precaution.
Drew described the scene after the incident as “chaotic” but praised the teachers, students and parents for doing “an amazing job” amid the ordeal.
3. A motive has not yet been determined, but it is believed that the suspect knew the victims, and the shooting was not a random act.
Drew reported that the shooting appeared to be connected to an altercation. “The way and all those things we’ll follow later. We’ll find that,” Drew said.
Governor Northam also confirmed that he and his team have been in active communication with first responders at the school.
4. Virginia AG Mark Herring is hosting a roundtable discussion on gun violence today in Newport News.
The event is set to bring together community leaders and local law enforcement officials to discuss solutions for preventing gun violence following yesterday’s incident at Heritage High School, WAVY News reports.
Superintendent Dr. George Parker III said that random security checks are already conducted at schools in the city in an effort to deter gun violence. However, school board officials are reportedly considering the use of metal detectors as part of a new gun violence prevention strategy moving forward. Plans to increase funding for school mental health counselors will also likely be discussed.
Virginia AG Mark Herring speaks to reporters. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images).
5. Support is available to students and staff facing trauma from the shooting.
“No superintendent, no teacher or principal would want to ever go through this situation” – Superintendent Dr. George Parker III
Heritage High School and Huntington Middle School will be closed today, September 21. Plans are also in place to temporarily transition to virtual instruction, the school confirmed in a statement. Students and staff are encouraged to reach out to a member of their support team, such as a school counselor, psychologist, social worker or therapist for guidance or support.
In a press conference yesterday, Parker emphasized that the situation was visibly distressing to many individuals at the scene. “No superintendent, no teacher or principal would want to ever go through this situation. Just seeing the faces of our students and how afraid they were under these circumstances, and our staff were traumatized,” said Parker.