Aug 3, 2022 - News

Richmond prosecutor: No evidence Dogwood Dell targeted in alleged shooting plot

Judge David Hicks passes a piece of paper to his court
Richmond District Court Judge David Hicks. Photo by: Ned Oliver/Axios

There's no evidence an alleged mass shooting plot targeted the city's Fourth of July celebration at Dogwood Dell, a city prosecutor told a judge Wednesday.

Why it matters: The Richmond Police Department and Mayor Levar Stoney made a big deal last month about foiling the supposed attack on the event, holding a press conference and making appearances on national news networks.

Since then, contradictory statements by RPD made it unclear whether Dogwood Dell was ever really in danger.

  • Police said two arrests in the case were based on a tip from a "hero citizen," at one point saying the tip specified Dogwood Dell and at another point saying it didn't.

What's happening: Judge David Hicks pressed prosecutors on the point during a hearing Wednesday.

  • Because two of his children attended the event at Dogwood Dell, he said he would have to recuse himself if it was indeed the target.

Assistant prosecutor Clinton Seal told Hicks he had no information supporting the police department's claims of a specific target, but he said he did “think there is evidence to support the potential of a shooting.”

The latest: Almost a month later, the two men arrested in the case still don't face any charges that back up police claims they were plotting a mass shooting.

  • City prosecutors dropped charges alleging the men possessed guns as noncitizens.
  • The case has instead been bumped to federal court, where charging documents filed Tuesday accuse Julio Alvarado Dubon of illegally possessing weapons and Rolman Balcarcel-Bavagas of entering the country illegally.

What they're saying: "Chief Gerald Smith stands behind the investigative work done by Richmond Police Detectives to stop a mass shooting planned for July 4th," the department said in a statement. "As the case moves forward, we will learn more about what charges will be pursued federally."

  • Balcarcel-Bavagas' lawyer, Samuel Simpson V, told Axios after the hearing that he has still not been presented with any evidence that supports the mass shooting claims.
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