RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Richmond Police Department has refused to share crucial evidence to verify its claim that a mass shooting was planned on Independence Day. The arrests made in connection to the reported plot have turned into an international incident.
One day after the city’s police chief said a “hero citizen” called officers about a conversation overheard about the plan for violence, a spokesperson and attorney for the department declined a request from WFXR’s sister station, WRIC, to listen to any possible audio of the call and to physically see the firearms police said were seized.
“Any audio records related to this incident will not be released or available for review at this time because all records related to this incident are part of an ongoing criminal investigation or proceeding,” read a statement from the department’s legal office in response to WRIC’s Freedom of Information Act request.
The state’s public records law includes an exemption granting law enforcement agencies the authority to deny certain requests during an ongoing investigation.
WFXR’s sister station also asked police spokesperson Tracy Walker to see the two reported AR-15 rifles, 9-millimeter handgun and more than 200 rounds of ammunition that Richmond Police Chief Gerald Smith said were seized in the investigation.
“Those items have been logged in as property and evidence as part of an active criminal investigation. That said, these items are not available for public examination,” Walker said on Thursday, July 7, adding, “Due to the ongoing investigation, there is no new information to update you with at this time.”
Julio Alvarado-Dubon, 52, and Rolman Balacarcel, 38, were arrested and charged with possessing a firearm by an unlawful alien on Friday, July 1 and Tuesday, July 5, respectively.
“We know what their intent is, but we don’t know their motive,” Smith said on Wednesday, July 6 during a press conference, where he announced the charges.
There is also conflicting information about what police learned after the tip that Walker said was “anonymous” was submitted. Walker also declined to say why the tip was deemed “credible” before police entered the home of Alvarado-Dubon and Balacarcel on July 1.
However, Walker said the “anonymous” caller did not specify any location as part of the plot. Police declined to share if officers followed up with the caller and received information to verify their claim and learn more about the alleged plan for violence.
The press conference Wednesday that included Stoney and members of Richmond City Council has prompted international attention, including that from the Guatemalan government.
The Maryland-based Consulate of Guatemala told WRIC Thursday that the consulate general on-site has requested a “Consular Interview with both Guatemalans.”
Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations “lodged an immigration detainer” on the men, a formal notice that ICE intends to take custody of someone, according to James E. Covington III, a public affairs officer with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
Covington said the immigration detainers were “lodged” Wednesday with the Richmond City Jail for Alvarado-Dubon, as well as with the Albermarle County Jail for Balacarcel, who authorities said was arrested in Charlottesville on Tuesday.
The arrest warrant for Alvarado-Dubon indicates he has lived in Richmond for three years and six months in New Jersey, and has worked in construction for three years. The warrant cites that the 52-year-old had a visa that expired four years ago.
WFXR’s sister station has yet to receive court documents for Balacarcel’s arrest, though DHS said he was deported from the U.S. twice — once in October 2013, and again in August 2014.