Public reacts to thwarted mass shooting plot at Dogwood Dell

The public reacted to just how close Richmond came to yet another mass casualty event.
Published: Jul. 7, 2022 at 5:03 AM EDT|Updated: Jul. 7, 2022 at 5:20 AM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Days after the Independence Day parade massacre in Highland Park, Illinois that left seven dead and wounded dozens of others, a relieved River City reflects on the tragedy that could’ve been right here at Dogwood Dell.

“We cannot calculate how many lives we saved on the fourth of July with that one phone call,” Richmond Police Chief Gerald Smith said.

During a press conference, Richmond Police and city leaders detailed how a heroic tipster allowed police to stop the act from being carried out. The public reacted to just how close Richmond came to yet another mass casualty event.

“The fact that the only way we knew they were going to do it was because of word of mouth is kind of scary,” John Gold said.

“Most of the time when you hear these stories break you hear people say all the time ‘We never saw the red flags, we never saw the signs,’ so obviously thank god that somebody was able to see them this time.” Ricky Capuano said.

Capuano said he considered going out to Dogwood Dell, but chose to watch fireworks from his home especially given recent events.

“Those types of thoughts aren’t really things you want to think about,” Capuano said.

The danger large crowds could attract was on Jace Poliquin’s mind Monday, so much so that he watched the celebration from a distance.

“It could’ve been horrible,” Poliquin said. “It’s terrifying to think about it.”

He says the foiled plan is a reminder of how hundreds of people including some he knew were nearly in harm’s way.

I was just talking to my neighbor who apparently was playing the piccolo at the concert add on the Fourth of July about how her family was there visiting her,” Poliquin said. “It’s like they really could’ve been taken out by some mad man.”

Despite the scare, folks like Gold say the planned massacre won’t keep him from going to large public events in the future, but he does want something done about the epidemic of gun violence both locally and nationally.

“These events are happening so often that when you hear about them on the news it’s just like it’s another day in the office it’s terrible,” Gold said. I think we need better gun laws. Gun laws don’t work if they are just on the local level. In order to help change, we also need to have a bigger focus on mental health in this country.”

“Richmond police, I’m glad you stopped one, I hope you can stop more,” Poliquin said.

In response to the foiled plan, Richmond Parks and Recreations, say they have no additional comments outside of what police presented during Wednesday’s press conference.

At this time no word has been given by Parks and Recreation as to the exact numbers of people present at Dogwood Dell Monday.

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