Intended 4th of July Shooting in Virginia's Capitol Was Thwarted After Tip From 'Hero Citizen,' Police Say

Richmond police chief
Richmond Police Chief Gerald Smith at Wednesday press conference.CBS News

The police chief of Richmond, Virginia, said officers thwarted alleged plans for a July 4 shooting after receiving a tip from someone who overheard a conversation indicating there was an attack being planned.

Richmond police say they thwarted an alleged plot for a mass shooting in Virginia meant to occur on the Fourth of July, after receiving a tip from a "hero citizen."

Police Chief Gerald Smith said Wednesday the tip led to the arrest of two men and the seizure of two assault rifles, a handgun and 223 rounds of ammunition.

The announcement came two days after a sniper killed seven people and injured more than 40 others at an Independence Day parade in Highland Park, a Chicago suburb.

Police spokesperson Tracy Walker said both men arrested in the alleged Virginia scheme are from Guatemala, The Associated Press reported. Smith said the suspects are being held without bail on charges of possessing weapons while being in the country illegally.

Authorities said the two men shared a Richmond home, where officers discovered the weapons.

“l want to thank and applaud the hero in Virginia that stopped a potential massacre by alerting our brave Richmond Police Department Officers that work tirelessly every day to protect our communities,” Gov. Glenn Youngkin said in a tweet. “It’s a great reminder that if you see something, say something to your local PD.”

Smith said the "hero citizen" overheard a conversation indicating there was an attack being planned on the city's popular Independence Day celebration and phoned police. Smith said he didn't know where the alleged conversation occurred, but the tipster said the Dogwood Dell Amphitheater, where an annual fireworks show is held, was mentioned.

The FBI and Department of Homeland Security participated in the arrests, Smith said.

The Independence Day holiday weekend was marred by shootings reported in nearly every state that killed at least 220 people and wounded nearly 570 others, according to the Gun Violence Archive database.

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