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Two charged after Philadelphia police find van packed with explosives

Philadelphia police (chrisinphilly5448/Flickr)

Two men have been charged with multiple felonies after Philadelphia police discovered explosives in their van amid unrest prompted by the death of Walter Wallace Jr., a 27-year-old Black man who was shot and killed during a confrontation with law enforcement.

Officers were responding Wednesday to a commercial burglary alarm at the City Avenue Marriott when they spotted about 10 to 15 vehicles all departing the parking lot in a suspicious manner. Authorities followed them, which resulted in the vehicles trying to ram through a Target parking lot barricade,

They all left upon the cops’ arrival, ramming a parking barricade on their way, but police followed the convoy on an interstate highway and into the downtown area.

When authorities pulled over and searched the van, they discovered a 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 a press release from Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro.

The city was under a curfew at the time due to unrest in wake of the shooting death of 27-year-old Wallace. The father and aspiring rapper was shot Monday afternoon during a confrontation with police officers, who said he was armed with a knife at the time.

Wallace’s family has since said he was having a mental crisis, and authorities should have been aware of his condition given that they’d been to the home earlier in the day.

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.

According to the news release, the tools found in the van are often used to dismantle and steal money from ATMs. At least 30 machines have been blown up and robbed since Wallace’s death earlier this week, according to ABC 6.

Shaprio’s office did not say whether the pair are suspected in the string of ATM bombings.


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