RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — After Richmond prosecutors said Wednesday, August 3, that they had no evidence Dogwood Dell was the specific target of an alleged July 4 mass shooting plot, the police chief told reporters two conflicting statements.
8News has identified four instances of conflicting or misleading statements from Chief Gerald Smith, Mayor Levar Stoney and the Guatemalan Consulate who requested interviews with the two Guatemalan men accused of the plot.
Chief Smith told reporters on Wednesday afternoon that “in all probability“ the shooting plot was planned for Dogwood Dell, and that “you would be hard-pressed to come up with another location.“ Smith and Mayor Stoney have previously said this location was, indeed, part of a plan.
“At least it was confirmed by those who were doing the investigation, that these individuals had a plan to come to what we call the Dogwood Dell,” Stoney said on News Nation’s ‘Rush Hour’ program on July 6.
During the same press conference, Smith announced that a tipster — dubbed a “hero citizen” — had “picked up the phone, overheard that there was a mass shooting being planned here in Richmond, Virginia, at our Fourth of July celebration at the Dell.” He added, “We know what their intent is, but we do not know their motive.”
The chief was also asked Wednesday afternoon about the sold-out Flying Squirrels Minor League Baseball game and fireworks show at The Diamond, but he said the event didn’t fit with police intelligence.
“What about the diamond? Did that ever come up?” a reporter asked.
Smith responded, “That is a baseball game sir, that was not a Fourth of July celebration. That was a baseball game.”
Yet, Smith said on July 6, “It was not only Dogwood Dell that we had concern about, but we also had concerns about The Diamond and the baseball game as well.”
Stoney told reporters on Wednesday, “I have confidence in the chief of police, and I have confidence in the hard-working men and women of the Richmond Police Department. Bottom line.”
After the mayor and chief’s remarks, the police department tweeted a misleading statement, which read in part, “As confirmed today, there is evidence that RPD stopped a mass shooting from happening in the city on July 4.”
However, the police department has not publicly shared any evidence of a shooting plot, though there may be. Meanwhile, the two accused men are not facing any state charges related to planning a shooting plot, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, which is now handling the case, has not made similar federal charges about a plot.
In a statement provided to 8News by the Guatemalan Consulate in Maryland, officials said they sought to interview the two suspects who were “apprehended July 2 and 3.” Meanwhile, police maintain the arrests fell on July 1 and 5.