NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — Newport News police say two students who were shot Monday at Heritage High School are expected to recover and the suspect, who was also a student, is in custody.
Newport News Police Chief Steve Drew said both victims were 17 years old. A boy was shot in the side of the face and a girl was shot in the lower leg. Drew said both of the two victims’ injuries were not believed to be life-threatening.
Monday night, the school division announced Heritage High School and Huntington Middle School would be closed for all students and staff.
When students and staff are able to go back to the building to access personal belongings and technology, the school division will begin the process of scheduling a time for them to pick the items up. After they get their belongings, Heritage and Huntington will temporarily move to virtual instruction.
The school has established a support hotline to assist students, parents and staff with counseling in response to the shooting. The phone number is 757-283-7868. Specialists will be available from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Achievable Dream Middle and High School will teach and learn virtually for the remainder of this week.
Just after 2:40 p.m. Monday Drew said the suspect, a boy, was in custody after help from the community. He couldn’t give details about who exactly he was and where he was arrested, but said in an update on Tuesday he was enrolled at Heritage High.
Drew confirmed the arrest was off-site from the school and that a gun was recovered. It’s still unclear how the suspect originally got the gun into the school.
Drew earlier said information indicates that the victims and suspect knew each other and it doesn’t appear that the shooter was looking to shoot others.
The school was evacuated and two other people suffered non gunshot-related injuries. One had an issue with their asthma and another broke or sprained their arm.
“We do believe that they knew each other … I don’t believe that this is an individual that is searching the community to hurt members,” Drew said. He said he couldn’t speculate further.
Rumors that there were active shooters at other schools were false, police said.
Students were evacuated and sent to the school’s tennis courts, where parents could meet their children. The school also includes 6th and 7th graders, after the closure of Huntington Middle School.
Nearby Achievable Dream Middle and High School were also placed on lockdown.
Police first got the call at 11:38 a.m. and there was still a major police presence in the area Monday afternoon. The FBI confirmed it is assisting Newport News police and evidence had been collected inside the school.
Local therapists and church pastors told 10 On Your Side they quickly arrived on campus as soon as they heard what happened and offered on-site support to students and their parents.
“Whenever there’s a situation like this anywhere in the community, we pastors band together to give spiritual support and to gather information because there’s so many rumors that are already out,” said Pastor Joshua King of Zion Baptist Church.
The school division also urged students and staff to contact a member of the school support team if they need help in the wake of the traumatic event Monday.
In the early afternoon, around 1:45 p.m., a crowd had also gathered around Riverside Regional Medical Center. The two 17-year-olds who had been shot were brought to that hospital.
It didn’t take long for Riverside security to spot 10 On Your Side and to ask us to leave the premises.
What was going on at the emergency department with the large crowd impacted Charlie Butler.
He was at the hospital for unrelated reasons. We found him sitting in his car after he was asked to leave the hospital because he was not the primary patient, his wife was.
Butler called it a lockdown for patients only to be in the hospital because that’s what he was told.
“So, the hospital is on lockdown because that’s what I was told. Yes, I was in the hospital and they put it in lockdown. Everybody who wasn’t an active patient had to leave. They told me they would let us know when we could go back in,” he said.
Several Virginia lawmakers and others shared statements after the news broke of the shooting Monday.
School schedule moving forward
Newport News Public Schools canceled after-school activities at all city schools for Monday.
Students and staff at Denbigh High School reported seeing some threatening comments on social media, so the school division requested additional police presence as a precaution for school on Tuesday, the Denbigh principal confirmed Monday night.
Thomas Nelson Community College said evening classes scheduled for Monday at the Southeast Higher Education Center will be held virtually. The center is near Heritage High School.