Suspect in Heritage High shooting in custody; police say video footage believed to have been captured

Heritage high school
Posted at 12:23 PM, Sep 20, 2021

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. - Newport News Police are investigating a shooting at Heritage High School and say the suspect is now in custody.

Monday, police searched the building for people who may still be inside. Students were evacuated and sent to the school's tennis courts. Police said parents could meet the students there.

Newport News Police Chief Steve Drew said they responded to a call at 11:30 a.m.

Chief Drew said it was a chaotic scene and they tried to get things under control as quickly as they could.

Two teens were shot: One male was shot in the side of face, and the other was a female who was shot in the lower leg, police said, adding that neither sustained what are considered life-threatening injuries.

Two other students were hurt, with their injuries related to evacuating the school. Police say that these students' injuries are also not considered to be life-threatening.

"I thank God for that," Chief Drew said. "That is the most important thing is those two individuals, first off."

Chief Drew said one person had a sprained or broken arm and was also sent to the hospital (believed as people ran out) and another person was sent with asthma issues.

"No superintendent, no teacher or principal would want to ever go through this situation," Newport News Public Schools (NNPS) Superintendent Dr. George Parker III said. "Just seeing the faces of our students and how afraid they were under these circumstances, and our staff were traumatized."

Related: Mental health services provided after Heritage High School shooting

Chief Drew added that teachers and students did an amazing job getting outside the building.

"I will tell you that teachers did an amazing job," he said. "Students did an amazing job funneling through."

Evidence has been recovered at the scene and other parts of the school grounds. The mother of a Huntington Middle School student shared with News 3 this video of students evacuating the school Monday morning. Her son shot the footage via his cellphone.

Heritage High School student video

Chief Drew said they have arrested the suspect, who is a male teen. There is footage police are working with, but Drew said, “I’m confident that we will be able to determine who this individual is.”

Later Monday afternoon, police revealed a suspect, described as a male juvenile, was taken into custody off-site. During Tuesday's "Chat with the Chief" with the NNPD, Chief Drew confirmed that the suspect was a student.

At 2:23 p.m., police say a family member took the suspect, a 15-year-old boy, to Juvenile Services, where he was then taken to the Newport News Police Department headquarters for an interview.

The teen has been charged with two counts of aggravated malicious wounding, two counts of use of a firearm in the commission of a felony and other weapons-related offenses.

Police were able to find the suspect after developing a description, receiving identifying information about him and receiving a number of tips from the community and school personnel. Officers conducted an extensive search of the area.

"I attribute that to this community, to the individuals who called in," Chief Drew said. "The next steps will be to try and determine why - why did this happen?"

Authorities believe the suspect and victims were known to each other, but there is no other information at this time.

"I just thank God that both of our students, the young people in this community, the most treasured commodity that we have in this city, are OK," Chief Drew said. "I know there’s traumatic events, but it could’ve been a lot worse. I just thank God that it wasn’t."

There have been reports that there were active shooters at other schools in the city. Police say that information is false.

Norfolk FBI, ATF Washington and Virginia State Police are currently assisting Newport News Police with the investigation.

David Wilson, a candidate for delegate who is running for the 95th District seat, recorded the chaotic scene on Facebook Live. Click here to view the video.

A spokesperson for Newport News Public Schools confirmed to News 3 Monday night that classes are canceled for students at Heritage and Huntington Middle School on Tuesday. When students and staff are able to reenter the building to get their personal belongings and technology, the school division will begin the process of scheduling a time for students and staff to retrieve these items. Once they have their belongings, both schools will temporarily move to virtual instruction.

Achievable Dream Middle and High School (which is adjacent to Heritage High School) will teach and learn virtually for the remainder of this week.

The investigation remains ongoing.

This is a developing story.