PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Two men were charged Thursday with possessing explosives after the van they were in was searched in Philadelphia as officials investigated bombings of cash machines across the city in recent days, the state attorney general announced.
Philadelphia police saw a group of 10 to 15 vehicles in a hotel parking lot at the edge of the city Wednesday and followed them as they left once police arrived, the office of Attorney General Josh Shapiro, a Democrat, said in a news release. The city was under a curfew at the time because of unrest following the shooting death by police of Walter Wallace Jr.
The convoy tried to ram a parking lot barricade, and police followed the vehicles onto an interstate highway and into the downtown area, the release said.
The van was pulled over and searched by police and agents from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. They discovered “illegal explosives that bear the street vernacular ‘quarter or half sticks of dynamite,’ a handheld propane tank torch, a taser and various tools including: electric drills, bolt cutters, and machetes,” according to the attorney general’s office.
The explosives and tools are commonly used to break into ATMs, the release said.
Van driver Brian Larue and passenger Eric Murray were each charged with possession of weapons of mass destruction, conspiracy and risking a catastrophe, along with several misdemeanor charges, the attorney general’s office said. The office did not say whether they are suspected of planning an ATM break-in.
The attorney general’s office said late Thursday that the men do not yet have legal representation.
The investigation continues, officials said.
The charges follow days of civil unrest following the shooting of Wallace, a 27-year-old man whose family said he had mental health problems. Police said he was shot outside his home after ignoring orders to drop a knife.
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