Louisiana High School Graduation Shooting Linked To Gang Violence

A Louisiana high school graduation shooting that injured four people is being linked to gang-related violence by police.

By Erika Hanson | Published

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Another school-related shooting struck a U.S. community last week. Four people were injured as gunfire erupted at a high school graduation in Louisiana. The graduation shooting marks at least the 120th school-related shooting in 2022 alone, according to Statista. It also highlights a growing concern in America: gang violence among youth.

The graduation shooting occurred during the Hammond High Magnet graduation ceremony that was being held on the campus of Southeastern Louisiana University (SLU). As the commencement ended, and families made their way outside, the alleged gunman, Trent Thomas, opened fire on the crowd. The 20-year-old shot three people. Furthermore, Fox8 Live reports that a fourth person was injured during the violent incident. 

Thomas was apprehended and arrested by police shortly after the graduation shooting. He is being 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. Hammond Police Chief Edwin Bergeron released information in a press briefing that the authorities believe the incident may be tied to gang violence. He also said that further arrests in connection to the graduation shooting may be coming. The alleged gunman himself does not have any prior criminal record, but police have information tying him to gang members that do.

Since the investigation remains ongoing, it is still unknown how exactly the ceremony ties into the graduation shooting and gang-related violence. However, authorities believe that Thomas may have been targeting a rival gang member who was a former student of the high school. According to authorities’ statements, it appears that none of the injured parties, however, were involved with any of the gang altercations, and were, therefore, innocent bystanders caught up in the violence. 

Luckily, none of the injuries sustained by the four graduation shooting victims were said to be life-threatening. Three of the victims were released from the hospital on Friday morning, while the fourth reportedly remained in stable condition. The victim who did not sustain any gunshot wounds was reportedly trampled by the stampeding crowd attempting to flee the building as the gunshots rang out, according to WBRZ news.  

As the Louisiana community mourned the senseless act of violence in the aftermath of the high school graduation shooting, community leaders and public figures spoke out against the heinous act. Louisiana senators John Kennedy and Bill Cassidy condemned the act of violence and offered prayers to the families affected. Likewise, across the nation, more people are speaking out against the uptick in violence rocking communities across the nation in recent weeks. 

Just a little over a week ago, a gunman opened fire in what is said to be a racially motivated shooting inside a grocery store in Buffalo, NY. The gunmen, who killed 10, had just a year ago made similar shooting threats at his high school, and he was allegedly never red flagged according to state laws. A day later, a mass shooting at a church in California claimed the life of one person. Likewise, the Louisiana graduation shooting was mirrored around the nation by two other similar school-related ceremony shootings in recent weeks.

Unfortunately, the type of violent instances like this graduation shooting is becoming a norm across the nation. And with gang membership —especially among youth — perpetually on the rise, it looks to only get worse. Nearly half of all high school students reported that they had gangs or gang members within their schools over a decade ago. Today, that number likely is much higher.