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Two shot at Kent County high school graduation

Two people were shot after a graduation ceremony at East Kentwood High School in Kent County, authorities said Thursday.

One victim was a 40-year-old woman from Grand Rapids who was shot in the abdomen and the wrist, and had "serious wounds," Sheriff Michelle LaJoye-Young said during a news conference Thursday night. The other was a 16-year-old boy from Texas who was shot in the wrist.

The victims were not related to each other, LaJoye-Young said. Both were in stable condition, but the woman was also listed as critical, the Sheriff's Office reported.

The shooting took place Thursday evening in the parking lot at East Kentwood High School in Kentwood after a graduation ceremony. The graduation was for Crossroads Alternative High School, part of the Kentwood Public Schools district.

Around 7:20 p.m., the Sheriff's Office started receiving calls of gunshots on campus, representatives said in a statement.

Two Kent County sheriff's deputies were working security at the event and had been inside the school football stadium when they heard shots coming from outside, according to the release.

"By the time deputies got to the parking lot on foot, the suspect vehicles had fled," officials said.

LaJoye-Young said there were two suspects in white sedans. Little is known about them, she said, but police were reviewing video and photos of the suspects. The connection between the suspects and the victims was unclear.

The Sheriff's Office later said the white sedans sped away the scene with multiple people inside. 

"At this time, it is believed there are more than two individuals that shot firearms," officials said Thursday night.

LaJoye-Young said there was no reason to believe the suspects were coming back to the area, adding she did not believe there was any additional public threat.

"A celebration like this is something that brings families together and makes us feel close to our community, with pride for our young people and what they're accomplishing," LaJoye-Young said. "This is very difficult to have happen in this community at this moment of celebration."

The district said in a news release that 60 students were at the graduation ceremony, along with their families and friends. There was a middle school concert in the school's auditorium at the same time, and a calendar from the school shows several athletic events also were scheduled at the school.

Families were able to leave after the incident "without problem."

“When violence occurs within our community, it is both troubling and tragic,” Superintendent Kevin Polston said in the release. “We remain committed to the health and safety of our community and will provide support and counseling to any students that need assistance.”

In the release, the district said it does not comment on active criminal investigations and directed comments to the sheriff's office.

Investigation into the shooting is ongoing, LaJoye-Young said. The Sheriff's Office encouraged those with further information to reach out to the sheriff's department at (616) 632-6100 or through Silent Observer, the platform the office uses for anonymous tips.

Twitter: @Hayley__Harding

Staff Writer Mark Hicks contributed