Police in Richmond, Va., say a tip ‘saved numerous lives’ from a mass shooting planned for July 4

At a press conference Wednesday, Richmond Police Chief Gerald Smith said two men were arrested after a “hero” alerted authorities that a mass shooting was planned for the Fourth of July. Smith said, “One phone call saved numerous lives on the Fourth of July.”

Video Transcript

GERALD SMITH: There are those who actually make a choice, a cognizant choice to actually be part of the solution and actually do something as simple as pick up the phone and give us a call. This is what happened here in the city of Richmond, Virginia, where a subject who I am referring to as a hero citizen picked up the phone, overheard a conversation that there was a mass shooting being planned here in the Richmond of Virginia at our 4th of July celebration at the Dell. That citizen picked up the phone and called our brave men and women at the second precinct. Those men and women of the second precinct began an investigation, along with Homeland Security and our Special Investigations team, went over to the 1000 block of Columbia Avenue here in the city of Richmond to begin their investigation.

Once inside that residence, they saw evidence in plain view that corroborated the hero witness' statement that there was a concern. The investigation continued. They seized two assault rifles, one handgun, and 223 rounds of ammunition. At that time, Julio Alvarado was taken into custody. He was charged with being a non-US citizen in possession of a firearm. He is being held currently at the Richmond city jail. The investigation continued. Officers continued to put surveillance on a second subject, and that second subject was watched throughout the holiday until afterwards, in which PC was actually obtained and he was taken into custody as well and charged with the same thing.

That hero citizen from one phone call-- well, let me back up. After that phone call was made, our investigation also reached out to the FBI. The FBI was very important, very critical in this investigation because we had to be sure that the scope of the plan only included those who we were looking at and did not exceed that. In other words, we did not want to miss anything. And we are very grateful to the FBI for their help and their cooperation with helping us with this investigation.

As it continued on and the second subject was arrested, Mr. Balacarcel-- I hope I'm pronouncing that correct-- was also arrested and charged with the same thing, of being a non-US citizen in possession of a firearm. The success of this particular investigation it can only be juxtaposed against the horrors in which the rest of the country has seen. There is no telling how many lives this hero citizen made-- how many lives this hero citizens saved from one phone call. And that's why I'm so proud to have our elected officials standing behind us right now because they know it's important that public safety is a responsibility of us all. One phone call saved numerous lives on the 4th of July.