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Armed men arrested near Philadelphia vote counting location

An election worker counted ballots at the Philadelphia Convention Center.
An election worker counted ballots at the Philadelphia Convention Center.Chris McGrath/Getty

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Two men armed with loaded handguns were arrested Thursday near the Philadelphia convention center where an ongoing vote count could decide the presidential election, police said.

Joshua Macias, 42, and Antonio LaMotta, 61, traveled from the Virginia Beach, Virginia, 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 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.

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

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A silver Hummer with Virginia license plates was parked 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.

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

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 license and carrying a firearm on a public street.

Information on lawyers who could speak on their behalf wasn’t immediately available.

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

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“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," Krasner said in a statement.