HOT SPRINGS, Ark – Hot Springs families say they’re still in shock after a gunman opens fire outside a high school graduation.
Hot Springs police have arrested 25-year-old Charles Johnson in connection to the shooting. He is facing first degree murder and first-degree battery charges.
Police say a fight broke out in a parking lot across from the Bank OZK Arena where Hot Springs High School was hosting their graduation Thursday night.
Hot Springs police say four people were injured, including the gunman and another person died.
When officers arrived, they returned fire on Johnson who was shooting into the crowd. He was hit and injured.
“I was frozen,” said Lynda Chesnutt who was celebrating her granddaughter’s graduation Thursday night.
Chesnutt says her family was out in the parking lot taking photos when they heard an argument going on behind them.
“I heard the screaming and yelling, and it was like oh my gosh what’s going on?” said Chesnutt.
When things escalated, Chesnutt says she took off. Moments later, she heard gunshots.
“Everybody started running around in different directions,” said Jason Pelton who was also at the graduation.
Pelton was inside the arena at the time of the shooting. He says once he heard the shots, he ran out to help those wounded.
Pelton is a doctor and said his reaction came second nature.
“A lot of that is just kind of a blur, you just go into auto pilot,” said Pelton.
Chesnutt returned to the parking lot where it all happened Friday afternoon. She says she still can’t believe what happened.
“When you graduate, you’re supposed to walk out the door so excited and ready for your new life,” said Chesnutt. “Now this is one that every child that graduated will never forget because of this.”
Chesnutt says she’ll spend the weekend and days after praying for those who’s lives are now changed forever.
“All the families of the graduates that were here, I’m so sorry this happened on the night of your child’s graduation and I wish I could make it better, but I can by praying,” said Chesnutt.