PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — A prayer vigil was held Tuesday evening at Heritage High School in Newport News. Dozens of students, parents, faculty and members of the community came out to lift each other up from the trauma following Monday morning’s shooting inside the school.
“If we start the conversation here about how to rebuild, how to go back to somewhat of normal, I think that will spread abroad, I think that getting the message is what’s important,” said Pastor Tremayne Johnson of Zion Baptist Church in Newport News.
Faith leaders from all over the community united in prayer to offer support while city leaders vowed to make the school safe for students once they return to the building.
“There is no life in prison after doing crimes like this so my word is today is just stop, just stop, just stop the violence,” said City Councilwoman Tina Vick.
Two 17-year-old students were injured in the shooting and are expected to recover and a 15-year-old male student was arrested off campus Monday afternoon in connection to the shooting. Police have yet to identify him, but said they recovered a gun. Police Chief Steve Drew said it appears the suspect knew the victims and wasn’t looking to hurt others.
“We’re tired of this. We’re tired of the gun violence. We’re tired of our young people dying and now it’s time for us to come out of the walls of the church and do things like this,” said Stacy Harden-Williams, a parent of a Heritage High alum, who attended the service.
Heritage High and Huntington Middle (which shares the school building with Heritage) are closed in the meantime for all students and staff.
The vigil was held at 6 p.m. outside the main entrance to Heritage High.
The Coalition of Concerned Clergy, a group of pastors on the Peninsula, led the service.
To help with the ongoing trauma from the shooting, the school has also established a support hotline to assist students, parents and staff with counseling. The phone number is 757-283-7868 and specialists will be available from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
The Newport News School Board also metTuesday night and metal detectors in schools were discussed. It’s currently not required for all students to pass through a metal detector as they enter Newport News Public Schools.
Look for continuing coverage on the Heritage High shooting with WAVY.