Feds take up case of alleged Richmond mass shooting plot

Southeast

(NewsNation) — The two men police say were planning a mass shooting in Richmond, Virginia, on the Fourth of July are now facing federal charges as of Wednesday.

Julio Alvardo-Dubon, 52, and Rolman A. Balacarcel, 38, were arrested after a tip from a “hero citizen” alerted authorities, according to the Richmond Police Department.

Officers allegedly found several assault-style weapons and rounds of ammunition in the possession of the suspects. 

The two men, both originally from Guatemala, were facing one count each of being a non-U.S. citizen in possession of a handgun. Prosecutors with the Commonwealth of Virginia moved to drop the local charges against the suspects as the case is taken over by federal prosecutors with similar charges expected.

The federal government is currently charging the two with being in the country illegally.

It has since been determined one man allegedly overstayed his visa by seven years, the other illegally re-entered the country. Charges were formally filed this week, according to court documents acquired by NewsNation.

“They have not been real forthcoming about who the tipster is or if it’s an anonymous tipster,” said Sam Simpson, attorney for Balcaracel. “Other than that person making that complaint and then they found the firearms at the home of the other gentlemen. Beyond that, I’m not sure where the Dogwood Dell thing came from.”

Richmond police initially said the alleged plot targeted an event at Dogwood Dell, but a prosecutor confirmed Wednesday they had no evidence of a specific location or target.

The local police chief says they “stand behind” their investigative work.

According to NewsNation affiliate WRIC, presiding Judge David Hicks told the court that he had two sons at Dogwood Dell on the date of the alleged mass shooting plot and considered a recusal due to the potential conflict of interest. 

Meanwhile, Richmond police released a statement Wednesday saying, “Today, we have been informed that based on the evidence presented, the case will go federal and is now in the hands of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia.”

“As the case moves forward, we will learn more about what charges will be pursued federally,” said RPD Public Affairs Director Tracy Walker.

NewsNation affiliate WRIC and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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