Philadelphia police investigate bomb threat and arrest two men armed with handguns near vote counting location

Northeast

PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA – NOVEMBER 06: Police officers stand between protesters supporting U.S. President Donald Trump (bottom) and people participating in a protest in support of counting all votes, outside of the Philadelphia Convention Center as the counting of ballots continues in the state on November 06, 2020 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Joe Biden took the lead in the vote count in Pennsylvania on Friday morning from President Trump, as mail-in ballots continue to be counted in the battleground state. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

PHILADELPHIA (NewsNation Now) — Police were investigating a bomb threat Friday at the Fashion District of Philadelphia, forcing the evacuation of a mall that partially borders the convention center, where votes are being counted.

Fashion district security received two calls from the same person claiming a bomb was going to go off in the area, according to Philadelphia Police officials. A K9 unit was on location and all trains at the station were halted. After a sweep of the buildings, police say no device was found.

As the vote count continues in Pennsylvania, hundreds of protesters both pro-Trump and pro-Biden have been gathering outside the Philadelphia convention center since election night.

On Thursday night, two men armed with handguns were arrested 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 about a block 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.

A silver Hummer with Virginia license plates was parked Friday at the location where police say they found the men’s vehicle. It was adorned with an American flag, a window sticker for the right-wing conspiracy theory QAnon and a fresh parking ticket.

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 said there have been no reported incidents of violence election-related violence in the city.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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