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Richmond graduation evacuated over possible armed person in crowd

RICHMOND, Va.— The graduation ceremony for Thomas Jefferson High School students at the Altria Theater in downtown Richmond was evacuated Wednesday night over concern that an armed party might be at the assembly. Crime Insider sources said that the threat was that a disgruntled student was going to try and shoot graduates as they walked across the stage, but a gun was never found.

Richmond Public School administrators decided to cancel the ceremony after a person told Richmond Police that they believed there was an armed party in the assembly.

The graduation ceremony ended shortly after 8:30 p.m., before students picked up their diplomas.

Parents and students were angry, confused and disappointed.

The threat was unspecified at first.

“It was two, three different stories, but at the end I just heard bomb threat,” said parent Sherry Ross.

“'Leave the building as early as possible everybody, just leave the building,” recalled parent Nurah Abdus-Salam.

Parents said they evacuated first and were followed by their students.

“They told everybody to go outside and all the graduates went downstairs, and they started to do a roll count,” said high school student Muhammad Abdus-Salam.

Students voiced extreme disappointment because they weren`t able to cross the stage to get their diplomas.

“I’ve never seen anything like this happen before and it had to be the one time my class graduated, and it happened to me,” Abdus-Salam said.

Richmond Public Schools put out a statement which reads in part:

“We appreciate the flexibility and understanding of all of our graduates, their families, and staff. Student safety is always a top priority and RPS looks forward to celebrating the graduates of Thomas Jefferson High School.”

The ceremony has been rescheduled for Saturday morning.