Cops arrested three “self-styled vigilantes” with loaded handguns, rifles, 2,000 rounds of ammunition, and a gun clip marked “America,” as the men were about to drive into the Holland Tunnel on the way to Manhattan Tuesday morning, police said.
The men — stopped at 7:40 a.m., during rush hour — were toting bullet-resistant vests with “Police” emblazoned on them, police and sources said.
The trio was flagged at the New Jersey toll plaza when a Port Authority Police officer detected a cracked windshield on the boldly colored red, black and green Dodge, police said.
The officer, John Basil, peered into a window and saw a loaded gun magazine. He ordered everyone out of the car. When the driver, Dean Smith, 53, of Pennsylvania got out of the pickup, Basil spotted a loaded .45-cal semiautomatic on the front seat, police said.
“The driver was sitting on a loaded .45 so that opened the door to everything else,” said Joseph Pentangelo, a Port Authority police spokesman.
A search turned up five pistols, an AR-15 assault rifle, a shotgun, four knives, 10 loaded clips of ammunition, and a military-grade helmet. Most of the guns were “locked and loaded,” police and sources said.
Some of the guns were found hidden in a passenger compartment. One of the clips had “United We Stand” written on it, and another, “America.”
Police also found a marijuana pipe in the car and three prescription drug pills, and believe all three suspects are heavy heroin users, sources said.
Authorities said they don’t believe the men are connected to terrorism, and NYPD Counter-Terrorism tweeted Tuesday that they are monitoring the situation.
The men, sources say, may have been coming to Queens to rescue a woman, also involved with heroin, who was being held against her will.
“They may be self-styled vigilantes,” a source said, though officials could not confirm that late Tuesday.
The trio’s gaudily painted pickup was equipped with special lights and a front-end carrier containing a lime green cooler.
Smith, John Cramsey, 50, and Kimberley Arendt, 29, all of Pennsylvania, were arrested on several gun charges, police said.
The name of an Emmaus, Penn. gun store called Higher Ground Tactical was also scrawled in several places on the pickup. A John Cramsey is listed as an owner of Higher Ground Tactical.
A man who answered the phone at the gun store declined to comment on the incident.
“I don’t know what happened,” he said.
Friends of Cramsey’s on Facebook posted good wishes to him Tuesday afternoon. “Damn brother, these media outlets act like you’re a terrorist,” one friend wrote. “What a bunch of idiots! Praying for ya buddy.”
Another friend wrote, “We are prayer for you John I hope you get out of that situation ok … We all know you were going to do the right thing.”
Cramsey identifies himself on his Facebook page as a “s—kicker” and “chief range safety officer.”
A Port Authority police spokesman described the officer’s initiative in stopping the car as “astute.”
“The agency does not believe the incident is terrorism-related,” the spokesman said.
It was not immediately clear whether the guns were licensed in Pennsylvania.