Two men charged for unlawfully carrying firearms in vehicle surrounded by protesters

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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Officers say two men were arrested for unlawfully carrying firearms in a vehicle that had been surrounded by protesters. 

Police say they were in the area of Meeting Street and Calhoun Street monitoring the protesters on Saturday, September 26 at around 9:30 pm.

An officer noticed multiple protestors leave the main group and surround a Chevrolet truck parked in the parking lot at 317 Meeting Street.   

Officers dispersed the group of protesters and made contact with the occupants of the truck.

Officials say while speaking to the male passenger, Richard Ray, 59, the officer observed an AR-15 lying in plain view in the back seat. 

When questioned, Ray admitted there were additional handguns in the vehicle with a second handgun being found in the passenger side door compartment.  

The driver, Matthew Constantine, 46, admitted he had a handgun concealed in his waistband. 

A fourth handgun was also located in in the vehicle. 

The officers also found pepper spray, a wooden club, additional magazines, ammunition, knives, and a Taser inside the vehicle.

Neither individual had a concealed carry permit.

Ray and Constantine were charged with Unlawful Carrying of a Handgun.

Officers want to remind the community that protesters should never approach vehicles or individuals outside of the protesting group.

The police department went on to add they have always and will continue to support the constitutional rights of peaceful assembly and freedom of speech, given it is conducted lawfully. 

Organizers of such protest are required to obtain a permit for any assembly/protest/demonstration with in the city that will consist of a group larger than 25. 

They say they will continue to identify unpermitted protest organizers and will cite them accordingly. 

Any form of rioting; to include but not limited to; assaults, destruction of property, impeding traffic, disobeying a lawful order, or any other type of criminal behavior, will be promptly addressed and arrests will be made.

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