A tip from a “hero citizen” helped Virginia cops foil a planned mass shooting at a July 4 fireworks show in the state’s capital, officials said Wednesday.

A tipster overheard a phone call outlining a plot hatched by two would-be gunmen to open fire at Dogwood Dell Amphitheater during an annual Independence Day celebration in Richmond, police Chief Gerald Smith claimed at a news conference.

The person called Richmond Police Department on Friday, leading to the eventual arrest of two Guatemalan men in the country illegally, Smith said.

The shooting would have been on the same day that a 21-year-old gunman Robert E. “Bobby” Crimo III opened fire at a July 4 parade outside of Chicago, killing seven and sparking mass panic.

Two gunmen were planning on a July 4 shooting in Virginia.
Cops were aided by a “hero citizen” in Virginia to foil a July 4 shooting.
Getty Images

“The success of this particular investigation can only be juxtaposed against the horrors in which the rest of the country has seen,” Smith told reporters. “There is no telling how many lives … this hero citizen saved from one phone call.”

Roommates Julio Alvarado-Dubon, 52, and Rolman Alberto Balacarcel, 38, were arrested separately and each charged with being non-US citizens in possession of a firearm, officials said. The pair may face additional charges, according to police.

After the tipster phoned in the warning to the department, police went to the pair’s home and found “evidence in plain view that corroborated the account,” Smith said. Alvarado-Dubon, reportedly a construction worker, was booked that day as officers allegedly seized two assault rifles, a handgun and 223 rounds of ammo.

But cops didn’t have probable cause to arrest Balacarcel so they put him under surveillance, eventually taking him into custody Tuesday in Albermarle County outside Charlottesville, officials said. The FBI and US Department of Homeland Security assisted in the investigation, Smith told reporters.

Law enforcement escorts a family away from the scene of a shooting at a Fourth of July parade in Highland Park.
The foiled Virginia shooting would have taken place on the same day as the Highland Park parade shooting, which killed seven.
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Court documents said both men were in the country illegally, and a Richmond police spokesperson said both men were from Guatemala, according to the Associated Press.

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney said the federal government needed to help stem the flow of guns into communities.

“Whether you’re at home in your cul-de-sac, or in your neighborhood, or in a park, or at a parade, out dining — you have to keep your head on a swivel,” Stoney said. “And that’s not the country that I know I desire to live in … but those are the facts of the matter at this moment.”

With Post wires



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