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Heritage High shooting suspect was 15-year-old student

Updated: Sep 24, 2021

Family member took him to authorities

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — The Heritage High School shooting suspect is a 15-year-old male who was enrolled at the school, police say.

Police have not identified the teen but said he was taken to the city’s juvenile services by a family member at 2:23 p.m., after fleeing the school. He was then interviewed at police headquarters before being charged.

He’s been charged with two counts of aggravated malicious wounding and two counts of use of a firearm in the commission of a felony, as well as underage possession of a firearm, possession of a firearm on school property, discharging a firearm on school property, discharge firearm in an occupied building, reckless handling of a firearm and carrying a concealed weapon.

10 On Your Side has confirmed that a fight broke out between one of the victims and the suspect before lunch. The shooting occurred after that incident.

Surveillance video captured the suspected gunman running away from the scene and dropping a gun in the trashcan. He then fled the school.

In a press release Tuesday, police didn’t release many other details that weren’t already known. They did say that a school resource officer was assigned to the school and was there on Monday.

The mother of a student who lives nearby and did not want to be identified told us “she does not feel comfortable sending my child back into the school” until administrators can reassure parents that the campus is secure.

The shooting happened around 11:30 a.m. and led to the evacuation of the school. The two 17-year-old victims, a boy and girl, were shot in the side of the head and lower leg, respectively.

Both of their injuries were considered non life-threatening and police said the victims knew the shooter. The shootings were not believed to have been random.

Teachers were the only ones arriving at Heritage Tuesday, as classes were canceled. Shamel Sykes was dropping off his wife, in her first year as a teacher at Heritage. He says she’s slowly recovering from the trauma that she and her students experienced.

“Going over [the incident in her head,] hearing the screams, the children just being uncomfortable, scared, really terrorized because they didn’t know what was going on,” Sykes said. He was in disbelief when his wife sent a text Monday just before noon.

“She sent me a text message and I’m like, what? Cause I’m not expecting that to happen in Hampton Roads,” he said.

The unidentified mother says several students were reluctant to leave their school when authorities were evacuating the campus, built in 1996 and home to the city’s Governor’s Academy for STEM courses.

“From what my child said who was at the school, there were kids that were scared to run out of the school, because what they were faced with outside was also authorities with firearms. Some were saying, ‘what if they think that we’re the shooters, or one of us?’ They were just scared, they didn’t know where to go,” she said.

“It is by the grace of God there was no loss of life,” said Police Chief Steve Drew in a statement. “We know this will be difficult to process for everyone involved and hope students, families, and faculty members take advantage of the resources that have been made available to help them cope with what happened yesterday at Heritage High School.”

There was a vigil at the high school on Tuesday night and counseling services are being offered for students and staff. The shooting has sparked conversations about school safety, including the use of metal detectors. The Newport News School Board will have a special meeting in October to talk about safety at all local schools.

Mayor McKinley Price issued a statement Tuesday on the shooting.



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