Federal court to take over alleged Richmond shooting plot case
RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Richmond’s Chief of Police is defending his assertion that two men from Guatemala were planning a mass shooting in the city on the Fourth of July.
“The questions about Dogwood Dell, you have an excellent police department that knows its job and know what it’s doing and took everything in all totality of the circumstances into account and in all probability the target was Dogwood Dell,” said Chief Gerald Smith, Richmond Police Dept.
On July 6, the Richmond Police Department said a tip from a “hero citizen” prevented a mass shooting at a July 4 event at Dogwood Dell.
Smith, the mayor, and city councilors stood before cameras and detailed a thwarted alleged plot to shoot up a celebration at Dogwood Dell. Questions quickly emerged about why event organizers were never told, nor police working it.
“Just a high probability of that would be it. It is Richmond. Fourth of July celebration. It’s at the Dogwood Dell. That’s what our officers did,” said Smith.
Both suspects were in court Wednesday, where prosecutors told General District Judge David Hicks they had evidence of a mass shooting plot, but not at any specific location.
The judge had two children at the Dogwood Dell event that night.
“Does the commonwealth have information that either of these individuals were involved in something that could potentially have affected Dogwood Dell in the Fourth of July, where I’ve advised you my children were present? Cause I need to know that before I determine, I can hear anything else on this matter. What would be your statement to that Mr. Seal?” asked Hicks.
Richmond Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Clinton Seal replied, “no.”
The local charges were dropped, and still, neither face any charges connected to a mass shooting plot. Both have been indicted by a federal grand jury - one for illegal reentry, the other on a firearm charge.
Julio Alvarado Dubon and Rolman Balcarcel-Bavagas were facing one count each of being a non-U.S. citizen in possession of a handgun. Their attorneys hope more evidence will come to light at the federal level.
“Because they dropped it in a pretty quick manner, we haven’t really gotten to see all the evidence that they might have,” said Samuel Simpson, attorney for Balcarcel-Bavagas.
NBC12 reached out to members of Richmond City Council who were at the press conference on July 6 about their reaction to Wednesday’s update.
Councilmember Michael Jones said he’s waiting to see how this all plays out in court.
“We just have to let the facts roll out, stand, and then we’ll make the decision on the back end what’s wrong, what’s right, what’s prudent,” Jones said.
Late Wednesday, Mayor Levar Stoney also said he supports Smith and the Richmond Police Department.
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