THIBODAUX, La. (BRPROUD) – Three people were shot and four people were injured at the Hammond High School graduation at Southeastern University on Thursday, May 19.
The Hammond Police Department and members of the university took part in a joint news conference to discuss the incident on Friday morning.
Tangipahoa Parish Schools Superintendent Melissa Stilley was one of the first people to speak at the conference.
“Graduation Is a very special time for our seniors and for their families,” said Stilley. “A happy occasion for our graduates and families ended on such a sad note.”
Stilley says hundreds of people attended the graduation ceremony. However, once the ceremony ended, happy moments turned into moments of terror.
“Outside the university center is when the shots began to fire,” Stilley said.
Trent Thomas, 20, is accused of shooting into the crowd as people were leaving the ceremony.
“At some point, there was an altercation between our suspect we have in custody, and another group of people, especially one individual who is a juvenile,” Hammond Police Chief Edwin Bergeron, Jr said.
Four people were injured in the shooting. Three were shot and one was injured as they ran to get away. One individual is still in the hospital but is in stable condition.
Bergeron says that the victims that were shot had had nothing to do with it.
Investigators believe that Thomas was not alone.
“You know right now, we’re investigating possible gang affiliation. We do believe that there will be more arrests. We do believe that they’re going to be arrested. We do believe that there’s more than one shooter,” Bergeron said.
Southeastern University Police Chief Michael Beckner says that for the remaining graduations, people are only allowed to bring cameras and cell phones. They are asked to leave bags and purses elsewhere.
Thomas is facing multiple charges including three counts of attempted second-degree murder.