ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) – It all started with a tip.
Speaking during a Friday afternoon press conference, Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said Thursday, the FBI’s field office in Norfolk heard “individuals were en route from Virginia Beach to Philadelphia in a Silver Hummer truck, and were in possession of weapons and ammunition.”
The Hummer turned up that afternoon, parked outside the Philadelphia Convention Center. Inside, thousands of ballots were being counted in the ongoing Presidential race.
It didn’t take officers long to find the drivers. Both men, 42-year-old Joshua Macias and 61-year-old Antonio LaMotta, were concealed-carrying semi-automatic Beretta pistols, according to police. Both were arrested.
Officers then searched the Hummer. Inside, they found another gun, an AR-15-style rifle, plus ammunition. The car itself was plastered with bumper stickers supporting the far-right Q Anon conspiracy theory.
According to a release from Philadelphia Police, both men were charged with having a “concealed firearm without a license, a third-degree felony.” At an arraignment hearing Friday evening, prosecutors said both men were concerned about the ballots being counted at the convention center, and were “coming to deliver a truck full of fake ballots to Philly,” according to CBS Philly.
Both Macias and LaMotta were from the Chesapeake area. Macias is one of the founders of “Vets for Trump.” A post on the group’s website says “personal family issues” forced Macias to step down earlier this year.
LaMotta describes himself on his website as a “crisis response security, fugitive recovery agent, bodyguard, security contractor.”
Both men appear to share a connection to Amanda Chase, the Virginia State Senator and current gubernatorial candidate.
LaMotta was one of six people who walked down the steps of the Capitol with the Chesterfield Senator when she announced her campaign for Governor earlier this year. Multiple lawmakers confirmed to WDBJ7 that they had also seen LaMotta with Chase during this year’s General Assembly session in Richmond – the Senator is known to travel with a large entourage, a response she says, to threats to her safety.
Macias and Chase crossed paths during several rallies and events in 2020, including the massive pro-gun rally in Richmond in January. A video Macias posted of the event shows him and Chase passing a megaphone back and forth, speaking to the crowd.
For her part, Chase denies there’s any connection to LaMotta, writing on Facebook that “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.” She also condemned the men’s actions in Philadelphia.
WDBJ7 reached out to Sen Chase’s office for comment. So far, we’ve not heard back.
During Friday’s press conference, officials revealed one other person appears to have been traveling with LaMotta and Macias. But according to Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner, “At this time we do not have indication that the story is bigger than these two individuals.”
Copyright 2020 WDBJ. All rights reserved.