Two men have been arrested in connection to a mass shooting plot targeting Richmond, Virginia’s Fourth of July celebration, authorities said Wednesday. The arrests came after a July 1 phone call tipped off police and spurred an investigation.
“One phone call” saved an unknown number of lives over the holiday weekend, authorities said at a Wednesday afternoon press conference.
Police seized over 200 rounds of ammunition, two assault rifles and one handgun from an apartment where the men were living. Authorities also saw “related material” in plain view upon being let into the apartment without a warrant, police said.
“Their intent was to conduct a mass shooting,” Richmond Police Chief Gerald M. Smith said at a Wednesday afternoon press conference.
The caller, whose identity was not released, learned about the plot because they “overheard a conversation that there was a mass shooting being planned . . . at our Fourth of July celebration,” Smith said.
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The mass shooting plot was going to target Richmond’s Dogwood Dell Amphitheater, the site of the city’s fireworks display.
Smith said investigators also had concerns the plot could have targeted The Diamond, Richmond’s minor league baseball stadium, where the Flying Squirrels played against the Reading, Pennsylvania Fightin Phils Monday evening.
Julio Alvardo-Dubon, 52, and Rolman A. Balacarcel, 38, have been charged with being non-U.S. citizens in possession of a firearm, according to Smith. Their nationalities have not been released to the public.
The first of the two arrests was made prior to July 4 and the second arrest was made on July 5.
Investigators waited to make the second arrest until after they had sufficient evidence, according to Smith. Between the time of the tip call and the second arrest, the second man was under police surveillance.
“We were watching him very very closely,” Smith said.
Police would not give further information about how the person who called in the tip learned of the shooting plot.
“Don’t know how he heard it, but he heard it and he did the right thing with the information,” Smith said Wednesday. “He put it into the hands of law enforcement and we are so thankful for him and numerous families and friends and loved ones are as well.”
Richmond Police said they had had no encounters with the two men prior to the July 1 phone call, Smith said Wednesday.
Both men are being held in the Richmond city jail without bail.
No motive has been identified in the case, Smith said.
Police had said earlier Wednesday morning they thwarted the planned July 4 mass shooting after receiving a tip that led to arrests and seizure of multiple guns.
The news of the thwarted shooting targeting Richmond’s Fourth of July celebration came just two days after a violent attack on a holiday parade in Chicago’s suburb of Highland Park that killed seven people and injured dozens.