St Louis couple is charged for pulling guns on protesters outside home
St. Louis couple are charged by city’s top prosecutor for brandishing guns at BLM protesters outside their mansion – but will Missouri’s governor now pardon them?
- Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner announced the felony unlawful use of a weapon charges against Mark and Patricia McCloskey on Monday
- The personal injury attorneys also face a misdemeanor charge of fourth-degree assault for the June 28 incident where they claim they defended their home
- Gardner said in an interview that the McCloskeys’ actions risked creating a violent situation during an otherwise nonviolent protest
- ‘It is illegal to wave weapons in a threatening manner – that is unlawful in the city of St. Louis,’ Gardner said
- The attorney for the McCloskeys in a statement called the decision to charge ‘disheartening as I unequivocally believe no crime was committed’
- Typically, class E felonies could result in up to four years in prison but Gardner is recommending a diversion program such as community service rather than jail
St. Louis’ top prosecutor is charging a white husband and wife with felony unlawful use of a weapon for displaying guns during a racial injustice protest outside their mansion last month.
Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner announced the charges against Mark and Patricia McCloskey, who are both personal injury attorneys in their 60s, in an interview with the Associated Press on Monday.
They also face a misdemeanor charge of fourth-degree assault as Gardner said their actions risked creating a violent situation during an otherwise nonviolent protest on June 28.
‘It is illegal to wave weapons in a threatening manner – that is unlawful in the city of St. Louis,’ Gardner said.
St. Louis’ top prosecutor told said on Monday that she is charging Mark and Patricia McCloskey with felony unlawful use of a weapon for displaying guns during a racial injustice protest outside their mansion. In this June 28 image they are seen standing in front their house
The couple came out of their property to brandish their firearms at protesters who they claim broke their way into a gated community
The attorney for the McCloskeys, Joel Schwartz, in a statement called the decision to charge ‘disheartening as I unequivocally believe no crime was committed.’
Gardner is recommending a diversion program such as community service rather than jail time if the McCloskeys are convicted. Typically, class E felonies could result in up to four years in prison.
Supporters of the McCloskeys said they were legally defending their $1.15 million home. Photos emerged as memes on both sides of the gun debate.
Several Republican leaders have condemned Gardner’s investigation, including President Donald Trump, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson and Sen. Josh Hawley, who has urged Attorney General William Barr to undertake a civil rights investigation of Gardner.
Parson said in a radio interview Friday that he would likely pardon the couple if they were charged and convicted.
Gardner said Trump, Parson and others are attacking her to distract from ‘their failed approach to the COVID-19 pandemic’ and other issues.
St. Louis, like many cities across the country, has seen demonstrations in the weeks since George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis, and the McCloskeys’ home was initially incidental to the demonstration on June 28.
Around 300 protesters made their way into the closed-off community and marched in front of the property. The couple said they were defending their home
The prosecutors said the McCloskeys’ actions risked creating a violent situation during an otherwise nonviolent protest
‘It is illegal to wave weapons in a threatening manner – that is unlawful in the city of St. Louis,’ Kim Gardner said
Several hundred people were marching to the home of Democratic Mayor Lyda Krewson, a few blocks from the McCloskeys’ home. Krewson had angered activists by reading on Facebook Live the names and addresses of some who had called for defunding police.
The McCloskeys live on a private street called Portland Place. A police report said the couple heard a loud commotion and saw a large group of people break an iron gate marked with ‘No Trespassing’ and ‘Private Street’ signs. A protest leader, the Rev. Darryl Gray, said the gate was open and that protesters didn’t damage it.
Video posted online showed Mark McCloskey wielding a long-barreled gun and Patricia McCloskey waving a small handgun. No shots were fired.
On July 10 the McCloskeys’ home was searched, and Mr McCloskey’s AR-15 assault rifle was seized. Arrangements were also made to turn over the handgun wielded by Mrs McCloskey.
In an interview with Fox News on Saturday, Mr. McCloskey expressed pride in his wife for her gun wielding actions.
‘I was always surprised to see her out there facing off [the] welfare crowd,’ he said.
‘I grabbed my rifle and I was standing up on the porch – and all of a sudden I see her in the front yard with our pistol in her hand. What a woman.’
Trump spoke by phone with Parson last week to criticize Gardner’s investigation. Parson, when he was in the Legislature, co-authored Missouri’s ‘castle doctrine’ law that justifies deadly force for those who are defending their homes from intruders. He has said that the McCloskeys ‘had every right to protect their property.’
Gardner declined to discuss why she decided the castle doctrine didn’t apply.
Mark McCloskey appeared on Fox News on Saturday to discuss the July 10 raid on his home and said about his wife, ‘I was always surprised to see her out there facing off [the] welfare crowd’
Missouri governor Mike Parson has said that Mark and Patricia McCloskey ‘had every right to protect themselves’ and said he would likely pardon them in a radio interview last Friday. When he was in the Legislature, Parson co-authored Missouri’s ‘castle doctrine’ law that justifies deadly force for those who are defending their homes from intruders
The couple’s attorney Schwartz said the McCloskeys ‘support the First Amendment right of every citizen to have their voice and opinion heard. This right, however, must be balanced with the Second Amendment and Missouri law, which entitle each of us to protect our home and family from potential threats.’
Another attorney for the couple, Albert Watkins, has said they grabbed their guns when two or three white protesters threatened the couple, their property and that of their neighbors.
Gardner, St. Louis’ first Black circuit attorney, has been at odds with some in the St. Louis establishment since her election in 2016.
Most notably, her office charged then-Gov. Eric Greitens with felony invasion of privacy in 2018 for allegedly taking a compromising photo of a woman during an extramarital affair. The charge was eventually dropped, but Greitens resigned in June 2018.
A private investigator Gardner hired to investigate the claims against Greitens was later indicted for perjury for allegedly lying during a deposition. His case is pending.
Gardner also has butted heads with police leaders, especially after she developed an ‘exclusion list’ of more than two dozen officers who were barred from serving as primary witnesses in criminal cases over what Gardner called credibility concerns. The move angered Police Chief John Hayden, who also is Black.
In January, Gardner filed a federal lawsuit accusing the city, the police union and others of a coordinated and racist conspiracy aimed at forcing her out of office. The lawsuit also accused ‘entrenched interests’ of intentionally impeding her efforts to change racist practices.
Several Black leaders in St. Louis have expressed support for Gardner, including Democratic U.S. Rep. William Lacy Clay, who has said protesters ‘should never be subject to the threat of deadly force, whether by individuals or by the police.’
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