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Man arrested in New York City with a gun, 8 loaded magazines, an NYPD vest and other weapons, police say

By John Miller, Michelle Watson and Nic F. Anderson, CNN

(CNN) — The New York Police Department is investigating whether a Queens man who was arrested Wednesday had plans to carry out an attack before he was pulled over and found with a gun, eight loaded magazines and other weapons, according to police officials with knowledge of the investigation.

Officers stopped Judd Sanson after noticing a blacked-out license plate on the Black Ford Explorer he was driving around 1:30 a.m., according to NYPD. The officers ended up finding a large cache of weapons, handcuffs, NYPD uniform items and a New York City transit vest, NYPD Chief of Department Jeffrey B. Maddrey told reporters Wednesday.

Sanson, 27, was taken into custody and now faces charges of criminal possession of a weapon – a loaded firearm, criminal possession of a weapon, unlawful possession of ammo feed device, and an obscured license plate, the NYPD told CNN in an email.

In court Thursday, his lawyer entered a not guilty plea and Sanson was remanded into custody. His next hearing is set for Monday.

During their search of Sanson’s car, officers also found a 9-millimeter Glock, 100 rounds of ammunition, a stun gun, multiple knives, a weighted whip, an expandable baton, heavy body armor and two axes, Maddrey said.

The man allegedly had a bullet-proof vest with an NYPD patch on the front as well as an orange MTA vest typically worn by workers in New York City subways, according to police officials with knowledge of the investigation. Police displayed the items at a news conference on Wednesday, including the Guy Fawkes mask made popular by the movie “V for Vendetta.”

According to an affidavit released Thursday, police found an expandable baton with the words “left me no choice,” “you gon learn today” (sic) and “astaghfirullah” written in marker. That latter phrase is Arabic for “I seek forgiveness in God,” the affidavit states.

Sanson also told an officer, in sum and substance, “Sorry, I’ll take it off. There’s a lot of drunk people nowadays,” according to the affidavit.

Questions about motive

After the court hearing Thursday, Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz said investigators would look through all of Sanson’s social media accounts to find out his true motives.

“When someone is driving around with 11 different weapons, all of this ammunition, language on the baton that sounds threatening, transit uniforms that can be used almost anywhere in our subway system or in our transit system, we have reason to be concerned,” Katz said.

A day earlier, Maddrey said “it’s still too early” in the active investigation to determine if the incident is related to terrorism.

“We’re going to be very thorough with this investigation,” Maddrey said. “It will be investigated by the detective bureau along with our intel unit to just see what else we can learn about this arrest.”

Police sources said investigators from the NYPD’s Intelligence Division and the Joint Terrorism Task Force were brought in because of the number and types of weapons, the gun, the amount of ammunition and vests with police and transit symbols.

Investigators are also examining writings found in the car and on social media, the police sources said.

“Members of this department make gun arrests, weapons arrests, arrests for knives every day. But an arrest of this magnitude – the amount of ammunition, NYPD paraphernalia in the car, was significant,” Maddrey said Wednesday.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said officials take the case “very seriously,” but could not say whether the man was plotting an attack.

“There is no tolerance for this behavior, this is criminal, and I have confidence in our system that this individual will be prosecuted and handled to the fullest extent of the law,” Hochul told CNN’s Laura Coates Wednesday night.

“This is unacceptable in the State of New York, it’s frightening but it’s important to know that the police are on top of this and more will be reported as we are able to disclose this to the public,” she said.

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CNN’s Mark Morales and Eric Levenson contributed to this report.

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