Richmond Police Chief Gerald Smith resigns amid scrutiny

RICHMOND, Va. — Virginia’s capitol police chief resigned Tuesday after months of scrutiny for his comments about an alleged shooting plot.

Gerald Smith resigned Tuesday afternoon and will be on administrative leave until Dec. 31, according to a statement released by a spokeswoman for the City of Richmond. Smith, who served as chief for two-and-a-half years, told a July 6 news conference that two men planned a shooting during a July 4 fireworks display at the Dogwood Amphitheater Dell.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch later reported that records obtained through the Virginia Freedom of Information Act showed that Smith was told in writing before his press conference that the location of any potential incident was not known. None of the people charged in this case are accused of planning a mass shooting.

Acting Police Maj. Richard Edwards has been temporarily named police chief while officials conduct a nationwide search for Smith’s replacement.

Smith’s July 6 press conference came two days after seven people were killed in a shooting during an Independence Day parade in Illinois. Smith said a ‘citizen hero’ contacted police after hearing a conversation indicating an attack was planned at an Independence Day celebration in Richmond.

Two suspects, both Guatemalan immigrants, have been charged in state court with possession of a firearm by a non-US citizen. Those charges were dropped after charges against the men were filed in federal court. Federal prosecutors have charged a man with possession of a firearm by a non-US citizen. The other man was charged with illegally entering the United States.

Smith was named police chief in July 2020 after leading the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department in North Carolina.

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