Jul 7, 2022 - News

Richmond police say they thwarted a July 4 mass shooting

Richmond police chief Gerald Smith at Wednesday's press confrence with city council behind him
Richmond police chief Gerald Smith at Wednesday's press conference.

A mass shooting was planned for the city’s Fourth of July celebration at Dogwood Dell, but it was thwarted thanks to a phone tip from a “hero citizen” and the subsequent arrest of two suspects, Richmond police said at a news conference Wednesday.

  • Police say they discovered two assault rifles, one handgun and 223 rounds of ammunition at a home in the 1000 block of ​​Columbia Avenue in South Richmond.

What we know: An unnamed tipster called the police on July 1 saying they “overheard a conversation that there was a mass shooting event planned at [Dogwood Dell],” Richmond police chief Gerald Smith said Wednesday.

  • Julio Alvarado-Dubon, 52, is charged with possession of a firearm while not being a US citizen.
  • Rolman A. Balacarcel, 38, is facing the same charges after he was arrested Tuesday. Investigators say he was Alvarado’s roommate.

What they’re saying: “We know their intent. Their intent was to conduct a mass shooting at our Fourth of July celebration,” Smith said.

Of note: “The majority of the police department” was already working on July 4 because of “what’s going on in the country,” Smith said, alluding to other recent mass shootings. He said that there was also some concern that “The Diamond and the baseball game” would be a target.

  • “I’m like any other citizen in that I’m just outraged at this,” Smith said. “I may be the police chief, but I’m also a citizen. This has to stop. This is America. We have a right to gather. … This has to stop."

Context: Smith, along with Mayor Levar Stoney, credited the “hero citizen” with saving lives.

  • “There’s no telling how many lives this ‘hero citizen’ saved,” Smith said.
  • “If you see something, say something. … It saved lives here in Richmond,” Stoney said.

What’s next: ATF is tracing the firearms to determine their origin. Both suspects are being held at the Richmond City Jail.

Separately: The city’s holiday weekend was not without violence. Multiple people were shot outside a club in Jackson Ward, and one person was killed on a patio in a Fan restaurant.

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