JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A man arrested during a protest in downtown Jacksonville on May 31 had a “Molotov cocktail” in his backpack and has been charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, federal prosecutors announced Monday.
According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, a “Molotov cocktail” is an incendiary bomb and destructive device that is considered a firearm under federal law. As a previously convicted felon, Ivan Jacob Zecher is prohibited from possessing a firearm, prosecutors said.
Zecher is also charged with unlawful possession of an unregistered firearm. If convicted, Zecher faces up to 10 years in federal prison on each count.
According to the complaint filed against Zecher, he was at a protest in Jacksonville over the death of George Floyd and was part of a group that was blocking traffic and throwing water bottles and rocks at police officers and cars.
Zecher refused to leave when officers told the crowd to disperse, and he was arrested on an unlawful assembly charge.
The officer who took Zecher's backpack off to put him in flexcuffs noticed liquid leaking from it, according to the complaint.
Officers found a liquor bottled filled with a gasoline-smelling liquid, a lighter and a hatchet.
According to the complaint, Zecher admitted that he was holding the bottle in his backpack for an associate, and that he knew the bottle contained gasoline.
Preliminary analysis by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives determined that the bottle -- which contained gasoline (a flammable liquid) and polystyrene (a flammable gel), and the cork (which was coated with polystyrene0 – constituted a “Molotov cocktail.”
“The cooperation and expertise of our local, state and federal partners in this case has led to a swift arrest without further incident,” said U.S. Attorney Maria Chapa Lopez. “We will continue to work with our law enforcement and community partners to ensure that the rights of all individuals are protected during these protests and beyond.”
The News4Jax I-TEAM learned that Zecher was previously arrested on charges of kidnapping, domestic battery, aggravated assault without the intent to kill and assault with a deadly weapon.
Earlier, police said they didn’t know if Zecher was acting by himself or with some kind of organization.