- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 6, 2022

A tip from a “hero citizen” is responsible for preventing a mass shooting that was being planned for the Fourth of July celebration in Richmond, Virginia, authorities said Wednesday.

Richmond Police Chief Gerald Smith said in a press conference that the citizen called police after overhearing Julio Alvarado-Dubon, 52, and Rolman Balacarcel, 38, plotting an attack to be carried out Monday at the city’s Dogwood Dell amphitheater.

Following an investigation, Mr. Alvarado-Dubon was arrested and charged with being a non-U.S. citizen in possession of a firearm before the Independence Day event, Chief Smith said.

On Tuesday, police arrested and charged Mr. Balacarcel with the same offense.

The police chief said authorities seized two assault rifles, a handgun and several hundred rounds of ammunition in the course of their investigation.

“The force multiplier for any law enforcement and public safety agency is the citizenry itself, because they see more and they hear more,” Chief Smith said during Wednesday’s press conference.

Chief Smith said the two men are roommates and officers visited their home in the 1000 block of Columbia Avenue on July 1 — the same day they received the tip about the alleged plan. 

There, the responding officers were allowed into the apartment and “there was firearms-related material in plain view,” the police chief said.

According to Richmond CBS affiliate WTVR, a police spokesperson said: “Unfortunately, the suspect did not have any weapons in his room and did not make incriminating statements.” 

That’s when “Homeland Security Investigations was consulted about the weapons, and they advised the owner was prohibited from possessing any. He was taken to lock up and charged with Alien in possession of [a] firearm,” the spokesperson said.

Authorities didn’t have probable cause to arrest Mr. Balacarcel at first, but he was kept under surveillance, Chief Smith said.

The arrests come in light of a deadly holiday that saw a mass shooting at an Independence Day parade in Highland Park, Illinois, as well as two police officers wounded by gunfire in Philadelphia during its Fourth of July celebration.

• Matt Delaney can be reached at mdelaney@washingtontimes.com.

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