The Richmond Police Department (RPD) announced Wednesday it had thwarted a mass shooting plot targeting the Virginia capital’s Independence Day festivities thanks to a tip from a good samaritan.
RPD Chief Gerald Smith hailed the tipster as a “hero citizen” in remarks delivered at a press conference. Smith said the anonymous tipster placed a July 1 call to the RPD to say that he or she had overheard a discussion about a mass shooting at or around the city’s Independence Day celebration.
RPD officials immediately took the threat seriously and began to investigate its veracity, Smith said. They determined the tip to be legitimate and coordinated with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to apprehend the plotters before they could follow through with their plans, Smith continued. (RELATED: What Can We Do To Stop The Next Mass Shooting? Experts Weigh In)
Authorities surveilled and ultimately apprehended Julio Alvarado at his home Friday in Richmond, Smith stated. When searching his home, officers found two AR-15-style rifles, a handgun, and more than 200 rounds of ammunition. Authorities recommended charging Alvarado with being an alien in possession of a firearm, according to WTVR.
Authorities arrested a second suspect, Rolman Balacarcel, on the same charge as Alvarado after surveilling him over the weekend, according to WTVR. Authorities apprehended him Tuesday. (RELATED: Texas Teen With History Of Mental Illness Arrested For Allegedly Plotting Mass Shooting)
“They were planning to actually shoot up our Fourth of July celebration,” Smith said. “The force multiplier for any law enforcement or public safety is the citizenry itself because they see more and they hear more,” Smith continued.
The foiled plot would have likely compounded the horror and tragedy of the mass shooting that left seven dead and dozens injured Monday in Highland Park, Illinois.