HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – A shooting on Thursday after graduation has created horrific memories of a lifetime for Hot Springs High School graduates.
“It was extremely scary because that’s not something you expect to happen at your graduation,” said Piper Osteen who graduated with honors from Hot Springs.
Piper says after she heard gunshots, chaos happened. She graduated but a day after, she doesn’t have proof.
“In the midst of everything happening and running away, I didn’t grab my little book to put the diploma in. And this morning, I was all shaking up, so I didn’t get a chance to pick up my diploma.”
Osteen says she also lost her phone.
“I was running down the hallway just crying and all I could say was “can I use somebody’s phone I need to call my dad.”
Pipers’ dad, Pete says getting that call from his daughter and hearing her crying made Thursday night the worst of his life
“Any parent can relate to walking in the grocery store and turning around and not seeing your kid there. Well, magnify that terror times 1 million,” said Pete.
The Hot Springs Police Department said Thursday night’s shooting happened after a large fight outside the Hot Spring Convention Center, leading to shots being fired, killing one and injuring 4 others.
39-year-old Michael Jordan was killed, and 4 others were injured, including the shooter.
According to investigators, 25-year-old Charles Johnson was arrested and charged with first-degree murder and 3 counts of battery in the first degree. Johnson was shot by police but was able to flee the scene. He was located and arrested at a local hospital while being treated for his injuries.
24 hours later, Fountain Lake High School graduates gathered for their night at the same venue.
Fountain Lake graduate, Caleb Carter says he can’t imagine such a scene happening at his graduation, adding it would be devastating.
Some supporters for Fountain Lake like Jeff Forbess say the shooting caused some hesitation to attend the ceremony at the convention center. But he and his family decided to attend because they “figured there would be a lot of security.”
Although Hot Springs High School’s class of 2022 will connect this shooting to their big day, Piper says it didn’t ruin it, nor take away their accomplishments “because outside of everything happening it was a beautiful thing.”
Investigators say there were no students injured.
The incident is being investigated but the Arkansas State Police.