Mass shooting in Virginia’s capital thwarted on July 4th after tip-off, say police

‘A hero citizen picked up the phone and called our brave men and women at the second precinct’

Gustaf Kilander
Washington, DC
Wednesday 06 July 2022 21:58 BST

Related video: Highland Park Illinois shooting: Seventh victim dies from injuries

Police in Virginia has announced that they thwarted a mass shooting planned for July 4 in the state capital of Richmond.

At a news conference on Wednesday afternoon, Richmond Police Chief Gerald Smith said the tip came from a “hero citizen” who said there was a plan to attack the fourth of July celebration at Dogwood Dell, WRIC reported.

Two men were arrested and assault rifles were seized, as well as a handgun and rounds of ammunition. The raid against the home on Columbia Street came after the tipster overheard the plan of attack.

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney said that “our officers quietly investigated and collaborated to stop what could have been a terrible day for the city of Richmond”.

“No community is immune” from mass shootings, he added.

Chief Smith said that The Diamond was another possible target.

The suspects have been identified as Julio Alvardo-Dubon, 52, and Rolman Balacarcel, 38. They have been charged with possessing a firearm as a non-US citizen.

“A hero citizen picked up the phone and called our brave men and women at the second precinct,” Chief Smith said, adding that other agencies, such as Homeland Security and the FBI, aided the investigation.

The police leader said that the suspects are being held in Richmond City Jail without bond.

The announcement came just two days after a gunman opened fire from a rooftop on a July 4 parade in the affluent Chicago suburb of Highland Park, killing seven people and injuring more than three dozen.

Robert Crimo was charged with seven counts of murder on Tuesday. The shooting sent hundreds of people fleeing in fear and set off an hours-long manhunt. Authorities have not yet identified a motive.

David Hogg, a survivor of the 2018 Parkland school shooting in Florida and founder of the gun control advocacy group March for Our Lives, tweeted on Wednesday that he’s “deeply worried we could be on the edge of something far worse happening than [what] we’ve already seen. I’m worried it will if we don’t act”.

“I do not think near enough Republicans, Democrats or law enforcement realize how close we could be to a coordinated mass terrorist attack in the United States by these young, heavily armed white nationalists,” he added.

“So far they have acted on their own but there are many of them and they are heavily armed and want the same thing – a male-dominated, white ethnostate,” Mr Hogg said. “They have been radicalized online and by cable news into believing there is a literal ‘white genocide’ in our country.”

The gun control activist said that his “greatest fear” is that “these radicalized young men stop acting on their own and start collaborating through groups like the National socialist movement” and possibly the Proud Boys to conduct “a mass terror attack”.

He added: “Luckily there’s a lot of stuff that gets prevented sometimes literally right before it happens that the public never knows about. But the possibility of this happening is still deeply concerning. As we know from the mistakes made with Parkland, law enforcement is far from perfect.”

“I’ve read these mass shooters manifestos they many say some version of the same thing,” Mr Hogg tweeted.

“Immigrants are destroying our country, the white race is being obliterated, typically there’s some section on how much they hate women,” he said of the manifestos.

“Every rational American on the left and right knows these are lies the problem isn’t so much us – it’s extremist leaders in the Republican Party like Trump and others who don’t counter these lies and may not be saying them as directly but reinforce them with their rhetoric,” Mr Hogg wrote.

“Again let me state as CLEAR as possible this is not 99.9 per cent [of] Republicans, this is a tiny per cent of a per cent that is causing this,” he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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