Richmond, Virginia police say a tip from a “citizen hero” helped stop two illegal immigrants from carrying out a planned shooting during a July 4th celebration.
“A hero citizen picked up the phone and overheard a conversation about a planned mass shooting here in the city of Richmond, Va.,” Richmond Police Chief Gerald Smith said at a press conference. Wednesday.
Police said they found evidence that Julio Alvarado-Dubon, 52, and Rolman Balacarcel, 38, planned an attack during the city’s Independence Day celebration at the Dogwood Deli Amphitheater and a city baseball game.
After the citizen called the tip on July 1, police investigated the suspects’ residence and saw “conspicuous evidence” to corroborate the tip. Officers seized two semi-automatic rifles, a handgun and 223 rounds from the home.
On Friday, officers arrested Alvarado-Dubon and charged him with being a non-US citizen in possession of a firearm. Balacarcel, who is Alvarado-Dubon’s roommate, was arrested and charged with the same count on Tuesday after a weekend of police surveillance.
The pair are being held without bail. Both suspects could face additional charges, police said.
Police have not identified a motive for the foiled attack.
“A phone call saved many lives on the 4th of July,” Smith said Wednesday. “The success of this particular investigation can only be juxtaposed with the horrors that the rest of the country has witnessed. It’s unclear how many lives this citizen hero saved with just one phone call.
The press conference comes days after a gunman opened fire during an Independence Day parade in Highland Park, Illinois, killing seven people and injuring dozens more.
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story stated that police seized two assault rifles and 223 rounds from the suspects’ homes. Police have since clarified that two semi-automatic rifles and more than 200 rounds were seized.
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