The St. Louis lawyers who pulled weapons on protesters marching past their home are being investigated for possible criminal charges, the city’s lead prosecutor has revealed.
Mark and Patricia McCloskey — who went viral after brandishing an AR-15-style rifle and a silver-colored handgun, respectively — were the only ones to lodge a police report over Sunday’s confrontation, insisting they were “victims” of threatening trespassers who entered a gated community, the St. Louis American noted.
But the husband-and-wife lawyers are being probed by police and prosecutors for possible threats against the crowd, authorities announced Monday.
“I am alarmed at the events that occurred over the weekend, where peaceful protestors were met by guns,” St. Louis Prosecutor Kimberly Gardner said, also condemning a separate “violent assault” in the city.
“We must protect the right to peacefully protest, and any attempt to chill it through intimidation or threat of deadly force will not be tolerated,” she insisted, saying her office was “currently working with the public and police to investigate these events.”
“Make no mistake: we will not tolerate the use of force against those exercising their First Amendment rights, and will use the full power of Missouri law to hold people accountable,” Gardner warned.
Mark McCloskey has insisted in an interview that they only grabbed the weapons after being “threatened with our lives,” comparing it to “storming the Bastille.”
In their police report, the couple also claimed they only grabbed the weapons after they “observed multiple subjects who were armed,” the St Louis American said.
Missouri law states that a citizen is committing unlawful use of a weapon if they “exhibit, in the presence of one or more persons, any weapon readily capable of lethal use in an angry or threatening manner,” the paper noted. It would likely be a Class D felony with up to 4 years in prison and a fine not to exceed $5,000.
However, a so-called “Castle Doctrine” allows people to use deadly force to attack an intruder on their property, the paper stressed.
The couple’s attorney, Albert S. Watkins, told the paper that the pair “acted lawfully on their property.”
“Their actions were borne solely of fear and apprehension, the genesis of which was not race-related. In fact, the agitators responsible for the trepidation were white,” Watkins stressed in a statement.
“The peaceful protesters were not the subject of scorn or disdain by the McCloskeys,” Watkins said. “To the contrary, they were expecting and supportive of the message of the protesters.”
The scandal also led to a Democrat running for a state Senate seat to refuse a donation from the McCloskeys, instead giving it to the gun-safety campaign group Moms Demand Action, the paper said.
The protesters were en route to St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson’s home to demand her resignation after she released names and addresses of residents who joined in anti-cop protests.
The couple brandished the weapons as the group marched past Portland Place, a private street in a historic section of the city that is lined with million-dollar homes and other mansions.
The McCloskey’s “Midwestern palazzo” home was featured in St. Louis Magazine in August 2018 after they completed a major renovation.
In the piece, they showed off their dome gilt ceiling and curved double staircase of marble leading to the second- and third-floor landings.