Suspected gang violence led to graduation shooting that wounded 3 in Louisiana, police say

Published: May. 20, 2022 at 12:00 PM CDT
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HAMMOND, La. (WAFB/Gray News) - Three people were shot and a fourth person was injured when gunfire broke out at a high school’s graduation, held on Southeastern Louisiana University’s campus Thursday.

Hammond High Magnet students were graduating at the University Center, and families were leaving the activity center around 8:15 p.m. when superintendent Melissa Stilley said the shots rang out.

Shortly after the shooting, Trent Thomas, 20, of Hammond, was arrested, WAFB reported. Officials said more arrests are possible.

Thomas is charged with three counts of attempted second-degree murder, obstruction of justice, aggravated damage to property, and possession of a firearm on a gun-free campus.

Cell phone video circulated on social media shows crowds fleeing just after the shots were fired.

In a press conference Friday morning, Hammond Police Chief Edwin Bergeron said the shooting stemmed from a possible gang-affiliated altercation between Thomas and a group of people, specifically one unidentified juvenile, a former Hammond High student.

Three innocent bystanders were wounded by the gunfire, and a fourth was injured trying to escape, Bergeron said. All of the victims’ injuries appeared to be non-life-threatening.

As of Friday morning, three victims had been released from the hospital, and a fourth victim remained in stable condition.

Bergeron said it doesn’t appear Thomas has any criminal history, but “we know the people he’s affiliated with,” he said.

Thomas is being held at the Tangipahoa Parish jail in Amite.

Louisiana senators John Kennedy and Bill Cassidy tweeted in the moments following the shooting, issuing prayers and condemning the “senseless violence.”

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