A phone call saved countless lives and prevented a possible mass shooting during the July 4 celebrations in Richmond, Virginia, the police chief and mayor said Wednesday.
The “hero” tipster overheard a talk that a mass shooting was being planned for the celebration at the Dogwood Dell amphitheater and called that information to police on July 1, Richmond Police Chief Gerald Smith said at a news conference. The amphitheater can seat 2,400 people, according to the city’s website.
On the same day as the tip, police went to a residence on the 1000 block of Columbia Ave. where they found the weapons and ammunition. In all, police found two assault rifles, a handgun and 223 ammunition in the house, Smith said.
A man was arrested on Friday and police were monitoring a second person, who was arrested on Tuesday, the chief said. Both suspects were charged with being non-citizens in possession of a firearm.
“They were actually planning to ruin our Fourth of July party,” Smith said. “We know what their intention is, but we don’t have their motive, we do know that they lived in the same location.”
Both men are being held without bond in the Richmond City Jail, Smith said.
“Our officers have been quietly investigating and working with their law enforcement partners and the community to end what could have been a terrible day for the city of Richmond,” Mayor Levar Stoney said. “As we continue to live through an era, an era of mass shootings all over our country, no community is immune.”
The United States Department of Homeland Security and the FBI were also involved in the investigation, Smith said. Police did not elaborate on plans for the mass shooting but reiterated the significance of the tip.
“There’s no telling how many lives this heroic citizen saved with one phone call,” Smith said. “Public safety is a responsibility of all of us. One phone call saved countless lives on July 4.
The news from Richmond comes just two days after a mass shooting killed seven and injured dozens during an Independence Day parade in Highland Park, Illinois.
The Highland Park massacre highlights an already bloody American spring and summer — more than 300 mass shootings have occurred across the US in the past 186 days, according to data collected by the Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit that tracks such incidents.