Virginia men arrested over alleged plot to attack Pennsylvania vote-counting site

2020 Election

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters/WRIC) — Philadelphia police said on Friday they are investigating an alleged plot to attack the city’s Pennsylvania Convention Center, where votes from the contested presidential election are being counted.

According to ABC-affiliate WPVI-TV, Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner said Joshua Macias, 42, and Antonio Lamotta, 61, both of Chesapeake, have been charged with possessing a concealed firearm without a license, which is a third-degree felony and carrying a firearm on public streets or public property, a first-degree misdemeanor.

Local police received a tip about a Hummer with armed people driving up from Virginia with plans to attack the convention center, a police representative said.

At 10:20 p.m. Philadelphia Police Department officers spotted a silver Hummer truck parked
unattended. Minutes later PPD Bicycle Patrol Officers observed two males in possession of firearms.

A pedestrian investigation of the males revealed that neither male had a valid PA permit to carry. The men were arrested.

Police took at least one man into custody and seized a weapon as well as the Hummer about which they had received a tip. No injuries were reported and no further details about the alleged plot were disclosed.

The Investigation is ongoing between the PPD and FBI. Firearms charges are pending for both males.

Friday update on the arrest

Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw and District Attorney Larry Krasner gave a 2:30 p.m. update on the Violation of Uniforms Firearms Act arrest. Watch along here:

Outlaw further verifies the tip they received and the arrest of two men for the possession of firearms. PPD arrested a 61-year-old pacific islander for carrying a 9 millimeter pistol in a holster on his hip and a 42-year-old man for handgun possession as well. The 42-year-old has a Virginia concealed carry permit but that permit is not recognized in Pennsylvania.

A woman traveling with the two men was not arrested on Thursday night.

The two men gave written consent for the search of the Silver Hummer they drove from Virginia. Inside of the vehicle police say they located an AR-15 with no serial number and ammunition. Krasner explains that these “ghost guns” with no serial number are not always explicitly in violation law.

The names of the men were released Friday evening.

Krasner says the arraignment for the two suspects will either late Friday or early Saturday. He says charges will include illegal possession of firearms but could also include others such as a criminal offense under the election code. Criminal charges under the election could be a felony or misdemeanor.

“At this time we do not have indications that this story is bigger than these two individuals,” Krasner said.

He says that there was no significant presence of hate groups, white supremacists and neo-nazi groups on Thursday. There were two groups in the area, one calling for the stoppage of vote counting and another calling for the continuation of counting. These groups were “vocal” but not violent.

Virginia connections

In an 8News interview, Philip Search a senior strategist for Sen. Amanda Chase (R-Chesterfield), acknowledges that at least one person involved with the Pennsylvania arrest has previously volunteered with Chase’s campaign. The man attended a couple events for Chase. Search says they have now “completely removed them from any of their events.” He said they cannot ban people from attending events but the arrested men will be prevented from volunteering or doing any work with the Chase campaign.

Counting the vote in Pennsylvania

The news was reported earlier by Action News, an ABC affiliate. Video footage broadcast by the outlet showed a number of police officials at the scene.

Earlier on Thursday, supporters of both President Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger Joe Biden held rallies in Philadelphia as election staffers slowly counted thousands of mail-in ballots that could decide Pennsylvania’s crucial 20 Electoral College votes.

Trump activists waved flags and carried signs saying: “Vote stops on Election Day” and “Sorry, polls are closed” as Biden supporters danced to music behind a barricade across the street earlier in the day.

A state appellate court ruled on Thursday that more Republican observers could enter the building in Philadelphia where poll workers were counting ballots.

The U.S. Postal Service said about 1,700 ballots had been identified in Pennsylvania at processing facilities during two sweeps late on Thursday and were in the process of being delivered to election officials.

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