RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — One of the two men accused by Richmond police of plotting a July 4 mass shooting in the city claims officers illegally searched his home when they found guns and has asked a federal judge to suppress the evidence collected.
Julio Alvarado Dubon was living in a home on Columbia Street when Richmond police conducted the search and seized two assault rifles, a semiautomatic pistol and about 200 rounds of ammunition. The other man identified by police in the alleged shooting plot, Rolman Balcarcel-Bavagas, lived with Dubon.
In a motion filed by his attorney on Sept. 12, Dubon argues the evidence should be excluded from the case because the search violated his Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable searches and seizures.
The motion asserts Dubon did not permit officers to search his home without a warrant, the search was not a “valid protective sweep” and there were no exigent circumstances to justify the search.
“Police entered the defendant’s residence for the stated purpose of having a conversation with him. Police then advised the defendant they would be walking through the residence to make sure no one else was present,” the motion claims. “The defendant stated he believed the police needed a warrant to further enter the home. Police ignored this statement and continued to look through the home, without a warrant, consent, or exigency.”
Dubon’s motion argues there were no exigent circumstances that allowed officers to conduct a warrantless search and that a search warrant later obtained by police did not “justify the earlier violation.”
The filing states three officers, two in the special investigations division and an officer who spoke Spanish, came to Dubon’s home for a “knock and talk.” Dubon let the officers into the residence after being asked if they could come inside to talk, according to the motion.
After an initial conversation with Dubon and another occupant of the house, the filing claims Richmond police Detective M.P. Kiniry said they were “going to look around to make sure no one else is here.”
At that time, the motion claims, Dubon says it’s his understanding that without a warrant you can get into the house. The Spanish-speaking officer, identified as Ferrerias in the filing, told Dubon the officers were “going to check to make sure there is no one else.”
“By this time, Kiniry has already begun walking through the house,” the motion states. “Dubon attempts to walk towards his room and is immediately directed back to the living room by Kiniry. Kiniry’s entry into the bedrooms of the house results in the discovery of firearms in Dubon’s bedroom.”
Richmond police said the department thwarted a mass shooting plot that targeted the city’s July 4 event at Dogwood Dell, with an investigation leading to the arrests of Dubon and Balcarcel-Bavagas.
Questions about the case continue after a city prosecutor contradicted Richmond Police Chief Gerald’s Smith claim that Dogwood Dell was the target and emails obtained through a public records request showed the chief was told a specific location was “unknown” before the July 6 press conference where he and Mayor Levar Stoney said the target was Dogwood Dell.
In August, Smith defended the department’s investigation and addressed the alleged plot in a one-on-one interview with 8News’ Olivia Jaquith. “I determined it was the Dogwood Dell from the facts; from the tipster; from the investigation; and from my 30 years of experience,” Smith said then.
City prosecutors dropped the initial charges against both men so federal prosecutors could pursue charges against them. Neither the city nor prosecutors in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia have filed charges connected to an alleged mass shooting plot, but additional charges could come.
Dubon’s trial in federal court has been set for Oct. 6, but the motion filed this week by his attorney could impact how the case moves forward. Dubon, a Guatemalan national, is charged with possession of a firearm by a person living in the U.S. illegally.
Balcarcel-Bavagas, also a Guatemalan national, pled guilty to re-entering the United States illegally after being deported and is set to be sentenced.