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'Really hits home' | Menchville High School parent weighs in on deadly school shooting

Police arrested 18-year-old Damari Batten in connection to the deadly shooting Tuesday night.

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — No matter when they saw or heard the news, the shock hit just the same. 

“As many people in the community as I know, it hit them hard. It doesn't matter whether their kid was there or not," Ferdinand Thomas said, a father of a Menchville High School student. 

Wednesday, police identified 17-year-old Woodside High School student Justice Dunham as the victim of the deadly shooting that took place after a basketball game between Menchville and Woodside. 

Police say 18-year-old Warwick student Damari Batten is under arrest and charged with second-degree murder, use of a firearm in the commission of a felony, and firearm on school property.

Thomas woke up to the news from his wife and says he's both thankful and heartbroken. 

Thankful because his child could have been at the game but wasn't, and heartbroken over the family's loss. 

As of Wednesday morning, Thomas was unaware of the fact that Dunham was a student at Woodside, his former high school. 

“Wow," Thomas paused. "That really hits home to me because I graduated from Woodside in 2002. I wasn’t aware that the child who was killed was a Woodside student. I was just aware it was a child. Wow," Thomas sighed.

RELATED: Warwick High student arrested after boy shot and killed at Menchville High

“Every parent thinking ‘That could have been mine.’ So I know it scares the kids, having death so close," Dimitri Bailey told 13News Now, a youth pastor and coach in the local basketball community. 

Thomas added that the Peninsula communities collectively mourn this loss and that everybody is impacted in some way, a point reiterated by Bailey. 

"My nephew was his teammate in basketball. They grew up together, they've known each other since like 6th grade," Bailey said

This shooting came just months after a shooting at Heritage High School sent two students to the hospital with gunshot wounds. 

“Puts us in a mindset, it might not be safe for our children in school," Thomas said.

Students at both Mencvhille High School and Woodside High School will return to classes on Thursday after they had been canceled Wednesday. 

Students and staff can call the Hampton-Newport News Community Services Board Emergency Services Line for assistance, open 24 hours a day… at 757-788-0693. 

Students and staff can also call the support hotline at 757-283-7868, which ends at 7 p.m.

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