As protests continue to rock several major cities in the US, some protesters appear to be treading very close to the line that separates lawful actions from unlawful ones. A 31-year-old man from Columbus, Ohio, has been federally charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

The accused, Ronnie Earl Murdock Jr, was spotted brandishing a rifle at the protests that took place in the city on June 24 following which he was arrested. "Peaceful protests can turn into tragedies if illegal possession of firearms becomes part of the mix," said David M DeVillers, US Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio.

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Carrying A Semiautomatic Rifle

Murdock is a convicted felon and is not permitted to possess, own, or control a firearm. An affidavit filed along with the complaint on Friday said he was spotted by an officer belonging to the Columbus Police Emergency Operations Center who was keeping an eye on a demonstration around Broad and Front streets on June 24.

The officer recognized Murdock and was aware of his felon status. He noticed that the accused was holding a rifle and was in violation of the law.

Swift Response And Arrest

Following the identification of Murdock and the law he was in violation of, SWAT officers from the Columbus Police Department responded promptly and arrested him. After his arrest, the officers recovered a semiautomatic 2.23-caliber rifle along with a magazine containing 31 live rounds.

Murdock has a history of felonies. In October 2007 he pleaded guilty to attempted burglary in Franklin County Common Pleas Court. Again, in October 2016, he pleaded guilty to robbery. The possession of a firearm by a convicted felon carries with it a possible sentence of up to 10 years in prison. A hearing in federal court is set to be scheduled by a judge.