Community leaders on Friday expressed outage over the shooting of a Huguenot High School student who was wounded while walking to his bus stop on McDowell Road near Chippenham Parkway Friday morning.
“It is with a heavy heart that I share with you news of a shooting that took place this morning at a bus stop,” Huguenot Principal Robert Gilstrap wrote in a letter to families on Friday.
Gilstrap said the student was shot by someone in a passing car and taken to a hospital with serious injuries. The shooting was witnessed by other students, he said.
School Board Chair Shonda Harris-Muhammed tweeted Gilstrap’s letter shortly before noon Friday, adding “what we know in this hour is the student is stable.”
Richmond police spokesman James Mercante later identified the victim as a 17-year-old male. He said officers were called to the 900 block of McDowell Road at about 8:19 a.m. and that the victim was walking toward the bus stop when the shooting happened. He was taken to a hospital with life-threatening injuries, Mercante said.
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The RPS Crisis Support Team is also at Huguenot High for students and staff, Gilstrap said.
“News of senseless gun violence can have a powerful effect on students,” Gilstrap wrote. ‘“We also encourage you to listen to your child and to discuss with them any feelings or reaction they may have to this event.”
Richmond School Board member Jonathan Young, whose 4th District includes Huguenot High, said about a dozen students were waiting for the school bus when the student was shot.
“I am appalled by this increasing vile violence as I am by the inept response by political leaders in this town some of whom advocated for defunding the police and championed a catch and release public safety approach,” Young said.
“Our students are because of it sustaining unspeakable harm,” he added.
Ninth District Councilman Michael Jones said he was disheartened by what Young said in response to Friday morning’s shooting.
“This is not the time to politicize the trauma the students are facing,” Jones said. “Today is not the day for talking points. Today we open our arms and say we are here.”
School Board member Nicole Jones said politicizing what happened Friday morning would not have changed what happened. She added she and Councilman Jones have worked together to keep their neighborhoods safe.
“How about we focus on what we should be doing? How do we come together to figure out a strategy so our kids are staying safe?”
Nicole Jones said in an interview: “I’m in shock. It hits close to home because I live in this neighborhood and it is the district that I represent."
Her main focus Friday was on the children. Many of the students who were at the bus stop attend River City Middle School.
“I want to make sure our students are safe and that they are being attended to,” she said. “Seeing something like that is difficult.”
Michael Jones, who lives two blocks away, was on the scene Friday morning. He felt anger when he heard what had happened.
“Young people should be able to get to and from school safely,” the councilman said. “Our students need an environment that is unfettered by violence.”
He added: “We have to find a way to ensure our young people have a home."
Police said anyone with information is asked to call Detective O. Reyes at (804) 646-3874 or Crime Stoppers at (804) 780-1000.
Mark Bowes, of The Times-Dispatch, contributed to this story.
Staff writer Mark Bowes contributed to this report.