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Two armed men arrested near Philadelphia voting centre

PA Media logoPA Media 06/11/2020 By Associated Press Reporter
A parking ticket is affixed to the windscreen of the vehicle (Rebecca Blackwell/AP) © Rebecca Blackwell A parking ticket is affixed to the windscreen of the vehicle (Rebecca Blackwell/AP)

Two men armed with handguns have been arrested near the Philadelphia convention centre where an ongoing vote count could decide the presidential election.

Joshua Macias, 42, and Antonio LaMotta, 61, travelled to the city from the Virginia Beach area in a Hummer and did not have permits to carry the weapons in Pennsylvania, police said.

They were arrested after the FBI in Virginia relayed a tip-off about their plans to Philadelphia police.

Officers stopped the men on the street about a block away from the vehicle, Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said.

a police car parked on a city street: The Hummer vehicle was parked near the Pennsylvania Convention Centre (Rebecca Blackwell/AP) © Provided by PA Media The Hummer vehicle was parked near the Pennsylvania Convention Centre (Rebecca Blackwell/AP)

Macias had a .40-caliber Beretta handgun inside his jacket, LaMotta had a 9mm Beretta in a holster and an AR-style rifle and ammunition were found inside the vehicle, Ms Outlaw said.

Authorities initially said that the rifle did not have a serial number but later said that it did.

A woman with the men was not arrested, Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner said.

A silver Hummer with Virginia licence plates was parked on Friday at the location where police say they found the men. It was adorned with an American flag and a window sticker for the right-wing conspiracy theory QAnon.

Macias and LaMotta, both of Chesapeake, Virginia, remained in police custody on Friday and were awaiting arraignment on state weapons charges – carrying a concealed firearm without a licence and carrying a firearm on a public street.

Macias and LaMotta’s arrests drew attention amid heightened tensions over the undecided presidential race, but officials cautioned against reading too much into them.

There was no indications that anyone else was involved or that the men are members of an extremist group, Mr Krasner said.

He did not say why the men went to Philadelphia, though in a statement Mr Krasner’s office said the tip-off that led police to them mentioned their trip may have had to do with the ongoing counting of votes.

“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,” Mr Krasner said.

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