Two men have been charged with possession of weapons of mass destruction, conspiracy, and risking a catastrophe after Philadelphia police discovered “numerous illegal explosives” in a van this week, prosecutors said.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced Thursday in a statement that Eric Murray and Brian Larue are facing the three felony charges each after police noticed a group of vehicles in a parking lot while responding to a burglarly alarm on Wednesday. The group of 10-15 vehicles left the parking lot “suspiciously,” and “unsuccessfully” tried to ram a parking lot barricade, prompting officers to follow the convoy and eventually stop the van near the city’s downtown area, according to a press release from Shapiro’s office
Officers from the department and the Philadelphia field division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives found illegal explosives including a propane tank torch and tools including electric drills and machetes in Murray and Larue’s van, according to the release. The two were arrested at the scene.
Shapiro did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
Shapiro said in the release the items found in the vehicle are frequently used to steal from ATMs, and noted at least 30 ATM bombings have occurred in the past four days in the city as the city faces widespread unrest following the fatal police shooting of Walter Wallace Jr. last week.
Two unnamed Philadelphia officers shot and killed Wallace, a 27-year-old Black man, around 4 p.m. on October 26 in West Philadelphia. The incident was caught in video taken by a bystander.
Insider’s Ashley Collman previously reported several local businesses were looted and vandalized and one 56-year-old police officer was hit by a pickup truck after protests erupted on Monday over Wallace’s death. Mayor Jim Kenney on Wednesday announced a city-wide curfew and called in the National Guard after several nights of rioting.
Investigators are looking into 17 different stolen van incidents to see if they are connected with the type of explosives found in this case, according to Philadelphia’s CBS affiliate.
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