Virginia Police Arrest Noncitizens Who Allegedly Planned July 4 Mass Shooting

By Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. and world news. He is based in Maryland.
July 7, 2022 Updated: July 8, 2022

Police in Richmond, Virginia, acting on a call from an unidentified tipster, have arrested two noncitizens who were allegedly plotting a mass shooting on July 4, officials announced on July 6.

Julio Alvarado-Dubon, 52, and Rolman Balacarcel, 38, were arrested after a “hero citizen” overheard a discussion about carrying out a shooting at an Independence Day celebration in Richmond, the city’s police chief said.

Both men were charged with being a non-U.S. citizen in possession of a firearm. Additional charges could be possible for both suspects, officials said.

The exact immigration status of the accused plotters isn’t clear. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency didn’t respond to requests for comment and the Richmond Police Department didn’t answer a phone call or return an email.

Motive Not Known

Alvarado and Balacarcel “were planning to actually shoot up our Fourth of July celebration,” Richmond Police Chief Gerald Smith told reporters at a briefing.

“We know what their intent is. But we don’t have that motive,” he added.

The shooting was allegedly planned for the Dogwood Dell amphitheater, which seats 2,400 and is located outdoors, officials said.

The men who were arrested lived at the same address and were described as roommates.

Alvarado-Dubon let officers into their apartment on July 1, after police were told of the apparent plot. Once inside, police saw “firearms-related material” in plain view that corroborated the tipster’s statement, according to Smith.

Seized Guns

Officers seized rifles, a handgun, and 223 rounds of ammunition. They arrested Alvarado.

Officers didn’t have adequate evidence at the time to arrest Balacarcel and wanted to make sure there were no other persons involved in the scheme, so they put him under surveillance.

Balacarcel was arrested on July 5.

Both suspects are being held in the Richmond City Jail.

Tipster ‘Saved Numerous Lives’

Officials praised the unnamed person who overheard the conversation, though they couldn’t give details such as when the conversation took place.

“The success of this particular investigation can only be juxtaposed against the horrors … the rest of the country has seen. There is no telling how many lives this hero citizen saved from one phone call,” Smith said.

In Illinois on July 4, a man identified by police as Robert Crimo III opened fire during a parade, killing seven and injuring dozens more. He’s been charged with multiple counts of murder and is being detained without bail.

“One phone call saved numerous lives on the Fourth of July,” Smith said. “And moving forward, we implore that everyone, if you see something, say something; if you hear something, say something.”

Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. and world news. He is based in Maryland.