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2 Heavily Armed Va. Men Found Outside Convention Center Charged As Philly Police Investigate Threat Of Attack

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Two heavily armed Virginia men found outside the Pennsylvania Convention Center were arrested by Philadelphia police late Thursday night. This comes as mail-in ballots were being counted inside of the center.

On Friday, the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office charged 42-year-old Joshua Macia and 61-year-old Antonio Lamotta, both of Chesapeake, Virginia, with several weapons charges.

"On Nov. 5, 2020, the FBI in Norfolk, Virginia received a tip stating individuals were en route from Virginia Beach to Philadelphia in a silver Hummer truck and were in possession of weapons and ammunition," Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said.

That alert was broadcasted throughout the police department, including to the hundreds of officers protecting the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

The vehicle with Virginia tags was found unattended on the 200 block of North 13th Street in Center City.

A few minutes later, officers stopped two armed men on the street. Police say they did not have a license to carry in Pennsylvania and were placed under arrest.

Investigators say Lamotta was wearing a Beretta handgun in plain view and Macias was concealing another.

"He had a Beretta .40 caliber pistol under his jacket and a Virginia conceal and carry permit. The state of Pennsylvania does not recognize handgun permits from Virginia, so he was also taken into custody," Outlaw said.

The men identified the Hummer as theirs. Prosecutors say police obtained two loaded semi-automatic Beretta pistols, an AR-style rifle and hundreds of rounds of ammunition.

Additional evidence from the vehicle is being investigated, prosecutors say.

The car has stickers on it promoting QAnon, a far-right conspiracy theory.

"I don't have information that any of them are known members of an extremist group," District Attorney Larry Krasner said.

guns found in hummer outside the pa convention center
Credit: CBS3 photographer Fletcher Rumbaugh

Eyewitness News cameras captured Lamotta being placed in handcuffs at 13th and Arch Streets.

philadelphia man handcuffed
Credit: CBS3

It's unclear what those men were allegedly intending to do. The FBI and Philadelphia Police are investigating the incident.

As of Friday morning, the Hummer remained parked on 13th Street. The Philadelphia Parking Authority has already ticketed the vehicle since it's parked in a three-hour zone.

Eyewitness News is working to find out why it hasn't been impounded.

Prosecutors say a woman who was traveling with the men was not arrested.

"There have been no reported incidents of violence related to the election here this week, and that streak continues thanks to the quick investigative work of the Philadelphia Police. I am grateful for the continued and productive collaboration with our partners in law enforcement and city government under never-before-seen circumstances, as we ensure that every vote is counted," Krasner said.

Though Krasner says the investigation is ongoing, he says it's unclear why the two armed men came to Philadelphia in the first place.

"At this time we don't have indications that the story is bigger than these two individuals," Krasner said.

Meanwhile, workers continue to count votes inside of the convention center amid legal challenges and lawsuits from President Donald Trump's team.

Tensions were high outside of the Pennsylvania Convention Center all day Thursday as Trump supporters and Biden supports protested. Separated by barricades, Trump supporters on one side chanted, "Four more years!" and Joe Biden supporters chanted "Count every vote!"

At the arraignment hearing, the District Attorney's Office asked for no bail for both Lamotta and Macias but a judge disagreed and set it at $750,000 cash -- 10% of which will need to be posted if either man wants to get out of jail.

Their next court date is Nov. 23 at 9 a.m.

CBS3's Dan Koob and Greg Argos contributed to this report. 


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