Two men were arrested after a chase that began at a City Avenue hotel ended with the discovery of a van with explosives inside on the Ben Franklin Parkway Wednesday night.
Brian Larue and Eric Murray are each charged with possession of weapons of mass destruction, conspiracy and risking a catastrophe along with several misdemeanor charges.
While responding to a burglary alarm Wednesday night, Philadelphia police spotted a group of 10 to 15 staged vehicles in the City Avenue Marriott parking lot. They then witnessed the vehicles suspiciously leave the parking lot as a unit once police arrived.
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Police chased after the convoy after they first tried to ram a Target parking lot barricade on 4000 Monument Road. The chase then continued down I-76 toward Center City and ultimately ended on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
One of the fleeing vehicles, a conversion van, pulled over. The driver, identified by investigators as Larue, then removed tape that had been covering the license plate. Officers then stopped the vehicle and Larue and Murray, a passenger, were both taken into custody, investigators said.
Philadelphia Police and the ATF discovered Larue and Muray were transporting illegal explosives known as a “quarter or half sticks of dynamite,” a handheld propane tank torch, a taser and several tools, including electric drills, bolt cutters and machetes. The men were then taken into custody and charged.
Officials said the explosives and tools found in the van are commonly used to blow up ATMs and steal the money inside. There have been at least 30 ATM bombings in the past four days.
“These individuals who have been charged today tried to use a message of justice to provide cover for their own gain,” Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said. “This is an incredibly challenging time for communities in Philadelphia, across Southeast Pennsylvania, and around the country. We will not allow criminals to hijack, and take advantage of, lawful protests as an opportunity to sow chaos.”
No injuries were reported during the incident.
The van was discovered during a citywide curfew following two days of vandalism and looting after the death of Walter Wallace Jr.