The Philadelphia District Attorney said his office will ask for both Virginia men to be held without bail, “as this alarming incident is still very much under investigation regarding additional charges.”
PHILADELPHIA — Two Virginia men face charges in Philadelphia after openly carrying guns and ammunition near the city’s ballot counting operation. Speaking at a press conference Friday, Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said her office responded to a tip they received from the FBI.
The FBI office in Norfolk, Virginia, passed along information Thursday that individuals were en route from Virginia Beach in a silver Hummer. These individuals, FBI officials said, had weapons and ammunition. Outlaw declined to say more about the FBI’s message, citing the ongoing nature of the case.
She did, however, provide a timeline of events. At 10:20 p.m. Thursday, Philadelphia police officers spotted a silver Hummer with Virginia tags, parked unattended at 230 N. 13th St. That information went out over police radio and at 10:27 p.m., two bicycle patrol officers observed the suspects nearby. The first man, 61-year-old Antonio LaMotta from Chesapeake, Virginia, carried a Beretta 9 mm pistol in plain view in a holster on his hip.
“[He] stated that he did not have a handgun permit and was placed under arrest,” Outlaw said.
The second man, 42-year-old Joshua Macias is also from Chesapeake. He appeared to have a gun concealed under his jacket, Outlaw said. Macias told officers he did have a Beretta .40 caliber pistol concealed, but he was licensed to do so in Virginia.
“The state of Pennsylvania does not recognize handgun permits issued by Virginia and so he was also taken into custody,” Outlaw said.
Both men admitted to driving up to Philadelphia in the silver Hummer. They gave written permission for police to search it. Inside was what police and Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner describe as an “AR-15 style rifle” and ammunition. The AR rifle didn’t have a serial number on it.
More Charges Coming?
Both men were identified Friday afternoon after weapons charges were officially filed. Each faces one count of carrying a concealed firearm without a license and carrying a firearm on a public street or public property. More charges could be coming, Krasner said, but Philadelphia officials are still obtaining evidence.
“It is likely there will be some others,” Krasner said. “Possibly a criminal offense under the election code. My office is currently reviewing the evidence and determining what charges to bring.”
There was a third person with the two men, Krasner said, but she was not arrested. Krasner declined to say why, adding that because it’s an open investigation, only a limited amount of information is going out right now. There is no evidence, he said, to show this was part of any larger attack on the ballot counting operation, currently going on at the Philadelphia Convention Center.
Who Are These Men?
Joshua Macias is a Navy veteran, real estate investment specialist, and strategic advisor to the Veterans for Trump group, which he co-founded in January 2016. On his Linkedin page, Macias posted Thursday that “we are assembling to #StopTheSteal. JOIN US!” Macias also makes multiple references on Twitter to “the Marxist agenda” taking over the US and “the socialist NY police state.”
LaMotta, meanwhile, promotes himself as the head of LaMotta Security, also offering services as a bodyguard and surveillance expert. On his website, he lists multiple people within the FBI and US Military as references. None of those people returned Dogwood’s calls Friday afternoon.
Dogwood also found that LaMotta set up a GoFundMe to raise $90,000 for a group called Virginia Armed Patriots. That fundraiser was taken down this afternoon.
The military veteran also appears to have a fascination with the Illuminati, QAnon, President Donald Trump, and several Virginia elected officials. On his website and Twitter, he talks about how “Gnostic Masonic Forces Led By Donald Trump” will soon launch a coup d’état against the “Illuminati Freemasonic Perverts.” The same is clear in his artwork, which is also posted in both locations. He often draws about groups fighting the “New World Order”, mostly portraying Donald Trump as the leader of this fight.
In addition to Trump, current Virginia State Senator and Republican candidate for governor Amanda Chase appears in his artwork. LaMotta has her fighting against current governor Ralph Northam. He’s seen in photos with her at multiple political events throughout this year. Chase took to Facebook Friday afternoon and issued a statement, saying there is no connection between her and LaMotta.
“This morning I received several press calls about ‘a story’ that is coming out of Pennsylvania in regards to ‘a group plotting the attack on the Philadelphia Convention Center’ and an individual believed to be connected to this incident having some type of connection to my campaign simply because he is pictured in photos with me at various campaign events,” Chase wrote. “Give me a break. There is no connection. 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. This is simply the fake news trying to create a story that doesn’t exist.”
Krasner said that his office will ask for both Virginia men to be held without bail, “as this alarming incident is still very much under investigation regarding additional charges.”
On Friday afternoon, the Hummer remained parked on the street in Philadelphia. Some Philadelphians were delighted to see that it had received a parking ticket.