A former Tea Party-backed candidate for the New York State Senate was taken into custody on Wednesday in Niagara Falls when police discovered a loaded AR15 assault rifle, handgun and black ski mask in her car, the Buffalo News reports.
Gia Arnold, 26, and a mother of three, was booked on felony charges of criminal possession of a loaded rifle and handgun along with a combat knife found in her vehicle, according to Niagara Falls Police Capt. Michael Trane.
According to police, Arnold, and her companion, 18-year-old Niagara Falls resident Halim Johnson, had no explanation for the weapons found in her car which she attempted to cover with a coat when pulled over for a turn signal violation.
Arnold ran an unsuccessful campaign in 2014 for the state senate, but dropped out after it became public that she was having an extramarital affair. With the backing of the Tea Party, she later attempted to restart her campaign, only to fail in the Republican primary.
According to the police report, Arnold attempted to cover up the gun during the police stop.
“Before she got out, she had pushed her coat over the rifle, which was wedged between her seat and the door jam, trying to hide the rifle,” Trane said. “ [Officer] Tarnowski immediately placed her in handcuffs. [Officer] Caldwell then had Johnson step out of the vehicle and Caldwell spotted a handgun with a red bandana around its grip in the driver’s side door cup holder.”
Police also discovered the black ski mask and large combat knife in the Pontiac Vibe.
According to a fundraising page set up to raise money for Arnold’s legal defense, “On Feb 10th Gia Arnold and her boyfriend became victims of the NYS (UN)Safe Act and racial profiling. ”
“After being asked the usual questions (criminal history, etc) they started accusing her boyfriend of being a drug dealer and having illegal drugs in the car. After running both licenses the cops once again started harassing her boyfriend and accusing him of having drugs. Gia asked the officers why they were pulled over and the officers could not come up with a valid reason so she said they would no longer answer questions.”
Both Arnold and Johnson remain in Niagara County Jail i in lieu of $5,000 bail and are scheduled to return to Niagara Falls City Court on Tuesday.