PHILADELPHIA, Pa. (WAVY) — Two armed men arrested overnight outside a Philadelphia vote-counting center were from Chesapeake, police confirmed.
In a press conference Friday afternoon, Philadelphia Police Chief Danielle Outlaw said her department was made aware of the two men after the FBI office in Norfolk, Virginia, received a tip that people were on the way from Virginia Beach to Philadelphia in a silver vehicle containing guns and ammunition.
Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner identified the two Chesapeake men charged Friday afternoon as:
- Antonio Lamotta, 61
- Joshua Macias, 42
They are charged with having a concealed firearm without a license, a third-degree felony, and carrying a firearm on public streets or public property, a first-degree misdemeanor.
“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 regarding additional charges,” Krasner said.
Philadelphia police spotted the men’s Hummer parked not far from the Pennsylvania Convention Center, where votes are being tallied, around 10:20 p.m. Thursday night, and found the two men nearby around 10:27 p.m.
Two officers observed Lamotta allegedly with a gun in plain view on the hip, and found that Macias allegedly had a gun concealed under a jacket. The 61-year-old said he did not have a handgun license, and was placed under arrest. The 42-year-old said he had a Virginia carry license, which isn’t recognized in Pennsylvania, and was also taken into custody.
The men also gave consent for police to search their vehicle, a silver Hummer. Inside, officers found an AR-15 rifle and 160 rounds of ammunition. While originally Krasner said the AR-15 had no serial number, that ended up being incorrect.
BELOW: Watch the police chief’s briefing.
A third person who also rode up to Philadelphia with the men, a woman, wasn’t arrested, police say.
Krasner said there was no violence during protests by supporters of President Donald Trump, who were urging the stoppage of vote counting based on unfounded claims of widespread voter fraud, and there was no indication the men were there to commit violence, despite being armed.
At this time, authorities said they don’t have reason to believe the two men were part of a larger plot, or are linked to a specific extremist group, though there were QAnon stickers on the Hummer. QAnon supporters have been linked to acts of violence multiple times.
Krasner says his department is taking the case seriously, but this “may turn out to be nothing more than two people deciding to come to Philadelphia at a particular time, for a somewhat unknown purpose,” as he warned against exaggerating the case.
Police say the investigation is “very active,” and the FBI is assisting.
WAVY News 10’s Andy Fox spoke with one of Lamotta’s neighbors in Chesapeake.
“He seemed to have been an upstanding guy. He worked for the city in Chesapeake for a while in maintenance — doing the maintenance of the parks and stuff. He’d come home, and he’d go, and he’d come home, and he’d go. He’d come over here and help me out once in a while, and he’d help the wife out once in a while. Other than that, he’s an upstanding guy,” neighbor Carl Beck said.
A Twitter and Linkedin page with Macias’ name identifies him as a U.S. Navy veteran who founded Vets for Trump — a group whose website says its mission is to “advocate for veterans at national and local levels” and “re-elect Donald Trump as the President of the United States of America.”
In 2016, Macias was introduced to a team of reporters at Trump Tower by then-senior advisor to the Trump campaign Kellyanne Conway.
Both Macias and Lamotta walked down the stairs of the Virginia Capitol back on Presidents Day alongside State Sen. Amanda Chase, (R-Chesterfield) as she announced her candidacy for governor.
“The individual has never worked for my campaign as paid staff or asked by my campaign to help out as a volunteer. He is simply a supporter that shows up on occasion at events,” Chase wrote on Facebook.
- NICU mom creates business to support families of preemies
- Va. Beach police searching for jeep possibly used in unprovoked drive-by shootings
- Some Hampton Roads schools may start before Labor Day to address COVID-19 learning loss
- Chris Beatty earns opportunity in the big time, as NFL assistant
- Watchdog investigator files lawsuit over Virginia parole board case