Two Virginia men have been charged with weapons violations as Philadelphia police investigate a possible threat of an attack. The pair was found outside of the Convention Center, a vote-counting location, after the FBI received a tip.
The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office charged 42-year-old Joshua Macia and 61-year-old Antonio Lamotta with several weapons charges on Friday, Nov. 6. Macia is white, and Lamotta is of Pacific Islander descent.
The FBI received a tip on Thursday, Nov. 5, that two individuals were traveling from Virginia Beach to Philadelphia with weapons and ammunition in a silver Hummer.
At 10:20 p.m. Thursday, Philadelphia police spotted an unattended vehicle with Virginia plates that matched the description provided in the tip parked along a Philadelphia street.
Minutes later, officers spotted Lamotta with a Beretta 9mm pistol holstered on his hip. He was standing by Macia, who had a handgun under his jacket. Lamotta said he did not have a permit, and was arrested. Macia said he had a Virginia concealed-carry license, but was arrested because the state of Pennsylvania does not recognize handgun permits issued by Virginia.
The men admitted they had driven from Virginia to Philadelphia in the Hummer. When officers searched the vehicle, they found am AR-style rifle and dozens of rounds of ammunition. A woman who was with the men was not arrested.
The Philadelphia police and the DA’s office are investigating the incident in conjunction with the FBI.
The two individuals appear to be linked to the far-right pro-Donald Trump conspiracy movement QAnon. QAnon stickers were found on the exterior of the vehicle and on the dashboard, while the men’s social media profiles contained several references to QAnon.
The complex mass delusion has prompted the creation of one of the largest extremist networks in the country and grew from online messaging boards where users asserted Trump was saving the world from cannibal pedophiles.
“At this time we don’t have indications that the story is bigger than these two individuals,” DA Larry Krasner said.
Since Tuesday, demonstrators have congregated outside of vote-counting sites in Detroit, Atlanta, and Phoenix, questioning the legitimacy of the process.
Meanwhile, Trump has perpetuated unsubstantiated claims of widespread voter fraud and “illegal votes” as his campaign announced lawsuits against multiple states.
“We are in a fight for America as we know it. We’re not going to give up our freedoms,” Macia said while wearing a “veterans for Trump” shirt in a video posted to social media.
Both men, charged with carrying a concealed firearm without a license and carrying a firearm on a public street, remained in custody Friday awaiting arraignment.
By Friday, Joe Biden had taken the vote count lead in Pennsylvania, where Trump previously had been significantly ahead, and on Saturday morning the state was called for the Democratic candidate by most news organizations, deeming him the winner of the presidential contest.