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Protesters surrounding men in parked pickup truck allegedly pulled on vehicle's doors, got on hood before cops arrested men in truck on gun charges


'I'm not pulling a gun on a bunch of kids'

Image source: WCSC-TV video screenshot

In the wake of police arresting a pair of pickup truck occupants on gun charges after cops dispersed protesters who were surrounding the vehicle Saturday night in Charleston, South Carolina, one of the arrested men said there's quite a bit more to the story.

What are the details?

Richard Ray, 59, told the Post and Courier that he and the truck's driver — 46-year-old Matthew Constantine — were concerned about the planned protest that night and headed downtown to check on business interests to make sure they weren't damaged. The paper said Ray declined to specify what those interests are.

A few dozen demonstrators had gathered downtown in response to the grand jury decision to not indict police officers in the killing of Breonna Taylor, a black woman, in Louisville, Kentucky, the Post and Courier said.

Ray told the paper he and Constantine watched and recorded protesters before pulling into a bank parking lot and continuing their vigil with the vehicle's headlights off and windows up.

Image source: WCSC-TV video screenshot

But soon enough a group of protesters surrounded the truck, pulling on its doors and getting on its hood, he told the paper.

Ray added to the Post and Courier that he was scared, but at no point did he or Constantine "reach for any weapon in the car." Ray noted to the paper that he did grab a pepper spray container and was planning to use it if anyone broke a window.

"I'm not pulling a gun on a bunch of kids," he told the Post and Courier. "I'm not going to do anything to hurt kids protesting when the cops are right there."

But then Ray told the paper one of the protesters yelled about a gun, which prompted police to come over — and then one of the officers shined a light in the back and saw an AR-15. Ray told the Post and Courier the rifle was from target shooting earlier in the day.

More weapons found

Upon further questioning, Ray told police there were handguns in the vehicle — one of them in the passenger side door compartment, WCDB-TV reported.

Constantine told police he had a handgun concealed in his waistband, WCDB added. It was loaded, according to WCSC-TV.

Officers also found pepper spray, a wooden club, additional magazines, ammunition, knives, and a Taser inside the vehicle, WCDB said.

Neither Ray nor Constantine had concealed carry permits, and they were arrested and charged for unlawful carrying of a handgun, WCDB said, adding that Constantine and Ray were released on bonds — $25,000 and $10,000, respectively. They're scheduled for an initial court date in December.

'I don't want people to be scared'

Following their misdemeanor arrests, Ray told the Courier and Journal he and Constantine had no intention of hurting anybody.

"I'm sorry it went down. I don't want people to be scared," he told the paper, adding that "we were not down there to harm anyone."

Ray also told the Courier and Journal he belongs to an unnamed citizens group with members who come from law enforcement backgrounds and who are concerned about violence growing in the downtown area in recent months.

And while he respects the right to peacefully protest, Ray noted to paper that he believes he and Constantine were mobbed and are being portrayed as bad people.

Luther Reynolds, Charleston's police chief, told the Courier and Journal that just because the men were concerned about business interests downtown doesn't "give them permission to go out and break the law."

But Ray also told the paper he believes the search of the truck was illegal, and that he may sue.

Anything else?

The Courier and Journal said Constantine — an artist — didn't respond to a voicemail and emails seeking comment. However, a local gallery said in a Facebook post Monday it stopped representing an artist who was arrested for unlawfully carrying a handgun during a recent protest, the paper reported, and that Ray confirmed it was Constantine.

Saturday protests leave four arrested, Chief of Police wants to work together with protestors

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