One of the gunmen arrested on his way to the Philadelphia counting center is a QAnon obsessive who has posted violent and anti-Semitic comics online. The other is a super fan of President Trump who urged social media users to watch the polls and suggested the 2020 election was stolen from the president.
QAnon conspiracy theorist Antonio Lamotta, 61, was arrested Thursday along with Joshua Macias, 42, co-founder of “Vets for Trump,” on federal gun charges after authorities allegedly received a intelligence that a group was headed from Virginia to the Pennsylvania Convention Center, the city’s ballot counting site, to “turn things around.”
The couple left Virginia with pistols, an AR-15 rifle and around 160 rounds, according to Philadelphia police. They did not have a valid firearms license in Pennsylvania and were charged with carrying a concealed firearm without a license, a third degree felony, and carrying a firearm in the public highway or on the street. public property, the district attorney’s office said on Friday. The two men, from Chesapeake, Va., Were accompanied by a woman who has not been charged with any felony.
“We will ask that the two be held without eligibility for bail when they are arrested later in the evening, as this alarming incident is still under investigation for further charges,” added the prosecutor’s office.
The arrests come as QAnon promoters fuel wacky theories that the Pennsylvania vote count is a ploy to steal the election from Trump.
Lamotta’s Hummer was discovered near the convention center with QAnon stickers on it and a QAnon hat inside. Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner told a press conference on Friday that the couple may have an affiliation with QAnon. Photos of a silver Hummer parked near the convention center also show a parking violation envelope hidden under the windshield.
“At this time, we have no indication that the story is bigger than these two individuals,” Krasner said, adding that there was no indication the men were part of an extremist group. He declined to comment on possible motivations for their trip to Philadelphia, but noted that the FBI was also helping with the investigation.
But Lamotta’s interest in QAnon, which the FBI sees as a potential source of domestic terrorism, goes beyond his truck. Social media posts on Facebook and Twitter reveal that Lamotta is a staunch promoter of QAnon who has embraced the darkest and most anti-Semitic corners of conspiracy theory.
QAnon believers follow cryptic “clues” posted on anonymous message boards by a mysterious figure named “Q,” who QAnon supporters say is a figure in the Trump administration. QAnon adherents pull these clues together to create a bizarre worldview in which the world is controlled by a nefarious pedophile-cannibal cabal in the Democratic Party, Hollywood, and the banks. Trump is a near-messianic figure to QAnon believers, who await the day that Trump and the military arrest and execute his political opponents in a much-anticipated purge they call “the storm.”
Lamotta echoed a core principle of QAnon in a Facebook post, which was preserved by JJ MacNab extremism research before Lamotta’s account was deleted.
“QAnon is a positive military operation that seeks to destroy the Deep State,” Lamotta wrote.
On one of his websites, Lamotta touted his access to weapons and claimed to be an “international security contractor.” The website, titled with an image of a sword, also features images of a gun and bullets.
A blog post on a business page for Lamotta’s private security firm also suggested that COVID-19 is “a completely human-induced fake ‘natural pandemic’ psyop crisis with a patented ‘gain-of-function’ bioweapon. ‘in the laboratory. “The August 25 blog post then incorrectly states that the coronavirus is a conspiracy equivalent to” crimes against humanity causing premeditated death, suffering and economic hardship, in combination with the withdrawal of drugs preventive and natural treatments ”.
“Killing these people is a legitimate act of self-defense and not a crime,” the entry read.
The blog post then falsely suggests that the pandemic – which has killed more than 236,000 Americans – is nothing more than a “workplace eugenics program” before praising Trump for trying his luck at Big Pharma .
An Aug. 21 article was aimed directly at Democrats and the upcoming election, saying: “My friends, I saw the DNC anything … if I was a Democrat I would shoot myself in the head in this. moment (right after seeing Trump’s rally.) I’d save myself a ton of ammo. They are not worth 65 cents each to shoot. “
The 62-year-old also claims to be a US Army veterinarian, and the site associated with the private security firm posted a link to the “Vets for Trump” Facebook group on September 4.
Social media from Macias, a Navy vet, revealed the 42-year-old was an enthusiastic Trump supporter who co-founded the veteran group backing Trump.
A Twitter account appearing to belong to Macias frequently posts articles in favor of the president and has shared several articles that allege that the 2020 presidential election – which has yet to be called – has been stolen from Trump.
“We are the veterans who support our 45th President of the United States of America. We stood guard, we survived the shooting. We are the backbone of the #MAGA movement in your backyard. For every rally, every community meeting, we are there for courage and strength as well as safety! Macias, who appears in a photo with Trump on his personal website, wrote on his LinkedIn page.
In 2015, Macias was even a guest speaker at a Trump rally in Manassas, Virginia. A year later, just days after Trump was elected president, Macias also spoke to reporters at Trump Tower. After being introduced by Kellyanne Conway, Macias spoke to reporters on November 17, 2016 about how “veterans have been behind Donald Trump since day one”.
“There are millions of veterans across the country who support Donald Trump,” he said, adding that they “also support Steve Bannon and the campaign efforts and General Flynn.” When asked why he was at Trump Tower, Macias replied that he had to “raise and support on a volunteer basis.”
Vladimir Lemets, executive director of Vets for Trump, confirmed to the Philadelphia Inquirer Macias traveled to Philadelphia on Friday to supervise the count.
“They just went up there to see if they could be of any help and to find out what was going on,” Lemets said, insisting that Macias had no violent intentions and probably thought his Firearms license in Virginia was valid out of state. (Under state law, Pennsylvania permits are honored in Virginia, but not the other way around.)
And Macias’ alleged accomplice Lamotta is not the first QAnon believer to be charged with conspiracy of violence. QAnon’s conspiracy theorists have been charged with a number of crimes, including two murders, child abduction plots and a terrorist incident near the Hoover Dam involving guns and an armored truck.
Lamotta also produced a comic, dubbed “The Trumpinator,” which portrayed Virginia State Senator Amanda Chase (right) and a “Rambo-like” Trump taking on the cabal depicted in QAnon’s conspiracy theories. At one point in the comic, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) promises to supply nefarious figure with ‘adrenochrome,’ a rejuvenating blood-like substance, QAnon believers claim global elites are drinking after sexually torturing children.
Despite his marginal beliefs, Lamotta has ties to at least one Republican official. He has been pictured on several occasions alongside Chase, an open gun control opponent who carried a pistol on state soil.
A spokesperson for Chase said Lamotta was not an official member of Chase’s campaign or security service. Lamotta asked to join Chase’s campaign, according to the spokesperson, but was turned down.
“He did not meet the campaign’s qualifications or standards,” the spokesperson said.
The comic even makes reference to a QAnon faction, on the very fringes of the larger QAnon movement, that John F. Kennedy Jr. faked his death in a plane crash in 1999 and disguised himself as Trump supporter Vincent. Fusca. In his comic, Kennedy is depicted donning a costume to dress up as Fusca and help Trump.
Lamotta’s comic also makes reference to the anti-Semitic Khazar conspiracy theory, which postulates that the Jewish people are not “real” Jews. At one point in the comic, Vladimir Putin coordinates with Trump to stop “the false Zionist Jews.” A suspect in a 2019 attack on a kosher grocery store in Jersey City was also a Khazar conspiracy theorist.
Lamotta also posted on Twitter about Pizzagate, the conspiracy theory that inspired both a shooting and arson at a Washington pizza restaurant and was ultimately subsumed into QAnon.
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