2 men arrested near Philadelphia vote center had QAnon paraphernalia, AR-15 in car

Tom Winter and Ben Collins and Daniel Arkin and Brandy Zadrozny

Two armed men were arrested Thursday near the Philadelphia convention center where votes were being tallied, police said.

The men — a 61-year-old and a 42-year-old — traveled to the city from Virginia in a silver Hummer, and they were arrested after the FBI field office in Norfolk, Virginia, received a tip about their plans, Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said at a news conference Friday.

Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner identified the men on Friday night as Joshua Macias and Antonio Lamotta, both of Chesapeake, Va., and said they were in custody after being arrested by Philadelphia police outside of the Convention Center.

Police said they found the car parked and unoccupied around 10:20 p.m., and about seven minutes later, two police officers on bicycles saw the two men in possession of firearms.

Officers saw that one man had a Beretta 9mm pistol holstered on his hip, and the other man appeared to have a concealed Beretta .40 caliber handgun, according to Outlaw. They also had an AR-15 style weapon in their truck, with approximately 160 rounds of ammunition.

Image: (Rebecca Blackwell / AP)
Image: (Rebecca Blackwell / AP)

Police said the men, who did not have valid Pennsylvania firearms licenses, would be charged with firearms offenses. They were set to be arraigned. It was not immediately clear if they had retained lawyers who could comment on their behalf.

The men may also face election law violations, according to officials.

Krasner said the duo are not known to be connected to any extremist groups, adding that “we do not have indications that the story is bigger than these two individuals.”

Krasner said there were some QAnon stickers on the car and that a hat with a QAnon logo was visible inside the vehicle. QAnon is a conspiracy theory that posits President Donald Trump is leading a secret war against a group of political and Hollywood elites who worship Satan and abuse and murder children.

Social media profiles that match Lamotta's name and included pictures of the silver Hummer and stickers suggest he was a supporter of the QAnon conspiracy theory. On his Facebook page, which was removed by early Friday morning, Lamotta posted about QAnon “as a positive military operation” and suggested a judgement day was fast-approaching. On Twitter, Lamotta posted signed drawings of cartoons that included anti-Semitic tropes and depicted Trump as a machine-gun carrying hero.

A fundraiser opened in July by Lamotta for “Virginia Armed Patriots” was also removed early Friday morning from GoFundMe.

Social media profiles tied to Macias' name mentioned the "Stop the Steal" campaign, a group which was banned from Facebook Thursday due to repeated calls for violence.

Some QAnon followers have become agitated since Election Day, and some called for armed conflict, as long-promised prophecies about a landslide Trump victory and mass arrests of Democrats did not come to pass. Q, the fictional government insider who leads the QAnon movement on the extremist forum 8kun, has not posted since about 17 hours before the first polls closed on Election Day.

Q's last post before the election was vague, included a link to the theme song to the 1992 movie "The Last of the Mohicans," and did not offer any explanation for years of failed predictions. Hours later, 8kun administrator Ron Watkins, who is the son of 8kun's owner Jim Watkins, resigned.

Some major QAnon influencers, who sell books and subscription content services, attempted to keep the faith of their followers by pushing elaborate voter fraud conspiracies, imploring increasingly anxious adherents to "trust the plan."