ST. LOUIS, Mo. – Mark and Patricia McCloskey are facing felony charges for unlawful use of a weapon. They made national news after they came outside with guns drawn as protestors were outside their Central West End home in late June.
The charges say that Patricia McCloskey began yelling at the protesters to “go” while pointing the handgun at the demonstrators. The protesters feared that get would be injured because Patricia has her finger on the trigger of the handgun and her excited demeanor.
Mark McCloskey was armed with a rifle. He also continued to point the weapon at demonstrators while they were on the sidewalk and street, according to the charges.
Supporters of the McCloskeys said they were legally defending their $1.15 million home.
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.
Missouri Governor Mike Parson said that he would likely pardon the St. Louis couple if they are charged for brandishing guns during a protest outside their mansion. President Trump also said he would take action in the case.
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.
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. 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.
The St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner posted this statement to Twitter Monday afternoon:
“Today my office filed charges against Mark and Patricia McCloskey following an incident involving peaceful, unarmed protesters on June 28. It is illegal to wave weapons in a threatening manner at those participating in nonviolent protest, and while we are fortunate this situation did not escalate into deadly force, this type of conduct is unacceptable in St. Louis.
The decision to issue charges was made after a thorough investigation with the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department.
I am open to recommending the McCloskey’s participate in one of my office’s diversion programs that are designed to reduce unnecessary involvement with the courts. I believe this would serve as a fair resolution in this manner.”
The McCloskey’s attorney, Joel J. Schwartz, issued this statement today:
“The charges filed today against my clients, Mark and Patricia McCloskey, are disheartening as I unequivocally believe no crime was committed.
I, along with my clients, 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.
With that being said, given the heightened attention focused on this matter due to the current political environment, I don’t believe it is prudent to comment any further, at this time, or to try this case in the media.
I look forward to reviewing the evidence and defending the McCloskeys against these allegations.”