The Bulletin

Richmond prosecutor objects to bail decision for suspect in alleged mass shooting plot

By: - July 7, 2022 5:28 pm

A police officer walks into the John Marshall Courthouse in downtown Richmond. (Photo by Ned Oliver/Virginia Mercury)

Richmond prosecutors are appealing a court’s decision to grant $15,000 bail for a man police claim was involved in a plot to carry out a mass shooting in the city on the Fourth of July.

In a petition filed Wednesday, Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Brooke E. Pettit asked the Richmond Circuit Court to overrule bail conditions a lower court set for 52-year-old Julio Alvardo-Dubon, one of the two men facing weapons charges in connection to the alleged shooting plan.

“No amount of bond nor combination of pretrial release conditions can sufficiently ensure the safety of the community,” Pettit wrote in the appeal.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Colette McEachin did not immediately respond to a request for comment on how the suspect was granted bail this week, over prosecutors’ objections, given the gravity of the accusations against him.

Richmond police have said a tip from a “hero citizen” helped them foil the plans of Alvardo-Dubon and Rolman Balacarcel, 38. They have provided few specifics so far about why they believe the men were planning a mass shooting at a Fourth of July celebration held in Dogwood Dell, an outdoor event space in a city park.

“We do know that they were coming to do a mass shooting at the Dogwood Dell at our Fourth of July celebration,” Richmond Police Chief Gerald Smith said in an appearance on CNN Wednesday night. “We have no idea what their motive is as of yet. I don’t know if they’re really speaking to investigators at this point in time.”

The announcement has made national headlines, coming days after a mass shooting at a Fourth of July parade in Illinois that left seven people dead.

As of Thursday, the two men have only been charged with possession of a firearm by a non-citizen. Alvardo-Dubon’s arrest warrant indicates he was not “lawfully present” in the country. Local media outlets have reported both suspects are from Guatemala.

Richmond police officials seem to be presenting differing accounts about the specificity of the threat. 

Smith has said Dogwood Dell was the intended target, but WRIC, a Richmond TV station, reported an RPD spokesperson “said the tip did not specify a specific location for the threat.” The initial news release from police also did not mention a specific target.

A Richmond Police news release says police foiled a mass shooting attack. (Screengrab)

Asked to clarify, Richmond police spokesperson Tracy Walker said in an email: “The information RPD received and subsequent investigation led us to believe Dogwood Dell would be the location.” She did not immediately respond to a follow-up question asking if she could elaborate on what led police to that conclusion.

Online jail records indicated Alvardo-Dubon remained in custody as of Thursday afternoon. His attorney declined to comment.

A bond hearing in his case has been scheduled for Monday morning, according to court records.

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Graham Moomaw
Graham Moomaw

A veteran Virginia politics reporter, Graham grew up in Hillsville and Lynchburg, graduating from James Madison University and earning a master's degree in journalism from the University of Maryland. Before joining the Mercury in 2019, he spent six years at the Richmond Times-Dispatch, most of that time covering the governor's office, the General Assembly and state politics. He also covered city hall and politics at The Daily Progress in Charlottesville.