By John Vibes
Two men were arrested with weapons outside of the Philadelphia convention center, where the deciding votes for the 2020 presidential election are currently being tallied. The arrests came within hours of two bomb threats, after police had received a tip about a group coming from Virginia with plans to “attack the Convention Center.”
Philadelphia police said that security in the Fashion District mall received two calls from the same individual saying that a bomb was going to go off.
The mall near the Convention Center was evacuated and trains in the nearby area were stopped, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. No bomb was found, but in their search, they found a group of men from Virginia, who reportedly drove to Philadelphia with the intention of “sorting things out” with the vote counting. Police have not said whether or not these men were connected with the threat that was called in.
Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner said that police spotted a silver Hummer SUV with Virginia tags parked near the building while they were on high alert after the threat. Police then arrested two armed men, Joshua Macias and Antonio Lamatta, after “an initial investigation determined that neither had a valid Pennsylvania firearms permit to carry.”
The men did have permits and licenses to own and carry the guns in their home state of Virginia, but Pennsylvania police do not recognize Virginia permits.
Police confiscated two semi-automatic pistols, an AR-15-style rifle, and ammunition, Krasner said.
“We will be requesting that both be held without eligibility for bail when they are arraigned later this evening, as this alarming incident is still very much under investigation,” Krasner said.
Krasner said that the pair are not known to be connected to any extremist groups.
“We do not have indications that the story is bigger than these two individuals,” he said.
According to the suspects’ social media profiles, they were devout followers of Donald Trump and believers in “Q” conspiracy theories. On his Facebook page, Lamotta posted about being part of a “positive military operation” and suggested a judgment day was fast-approaching. Macias recently made posts on Facebook about the “Stop the Steal” campaign, which was banned from the website on Thursday over repeated calls for violence from its members.
On Thursday, Macias posted a video to Facebook showing him outside the Convention Center talking about why he traveled to Philadelphia from his home state of Virginia.
“We are in a fight for America as we know it. We’re not going to give up our freedoms,” he said, adding that he was there to make sure that the “legitimate” votes were counted.
At this time, authorities are unsure what these men were planning, but the FBI and Philadelphia Police are investigating the incident.
The suspects are due back in court on Friday or Saturday.
Inside the Convention Center, poll workers continue to count the final ballots. Meanwhile, protesters supporting both candidates have gathered outside, where they are separated by barricades, chanting at one another.
Tonight pro-Trump and pro-Biden activists both gathered Thursday night to protest outside the Philadelphia Convention Center as votes continue to be counted in the 2020 presidential race.
Filmed by Michael Vincent Finazzo for @N2Sreports
Full video in 4K on the way. pic.twitter.com/NnaZZP0RDg
— Ford Fischer (@FordFischer) November 6, 2020
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