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Tip from “hero citizen” thwarted July 4 mass shooting in Virginia’s capital, police say

Police in Richmond, Virginia, said Wednesday that they thwarted a planned July 4 mass shooting after receiving a tip that led to the arrest of two men and the seizure of multiple guns — an announcement that came just two days after a deadly mass shooting on the holiday in a Chicago suburb.

A “hero citizen” overheard a conversation indicating there was an attack being planned on the city’s popular Independence Day celebration and called police to report it, Police Chief Gerald Smith said at a news conference. He did not know where this conversation took place, but said the suspects were targeting Dogwood Dell, a local amphitheater. 

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Authorities thwarted a planned possible mass shooting at a Fourth of July celebration in Richmond, Virginia. Police released photos of the weapons they recovered from a local residence. 

Richmond Police Department


After receiving the tip on July 1, police initiated an investigation, along with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and FBI, which led to the arrests of two men.  

Julio Alvardo-Dubon, 52, was taken into custody on July 1 on charges of being a non-U.S. citizen in possession of a firearm. Authorities then placed Rolman A. Balacarcel, described as Alvardo-Dubon’s roommate, under surveillance because they did not have probable cause to arrest him. Four days later, the 38-year-old was arrested on the same charges. Additional charges are possible, Smith said.

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Julio Alvardo-Dubon, 52, faces one charge of non U.S. citizen in possession of a firearm, police in Richmond, Virginia, said. 

Keshia Butts


The two suspects were not previously known to authorities, according to Smith.

Officers seized two assault rifles, a handgun and hundreds of rounds of ammunition from a residence where the firearms and “related material” were in plain view, Smith said. It is not yet clear how the firearms were acquired.

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Rolman A. Balacarcel, 38, faces a charge of non U.S. citizen in possession of a firearm, police in Richmond, Virginia, said.

Keshia Butts


Alvardo-Dubon and Balacarcel were being held without bond at a local jail, the chief said.

The apparent thwarted plot was planned for the same day that a gunman opened fire from a rooftop during a Fourth of July parade in the affluent Chicago suburb of Highland Park, killing seven people and injuring more than three dozen.

Robert E. Crimo III was charged with seven counts of murder Tuesday. The shooting sent hundreds of people fleeing in fear and set off an hourslong manhunt. Authorities have not yet identified a motive in that shooting.


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