ALL NEWS

St. Louis couple charged for pulling, waving guns at protest

Jul 21, 2020, 6:26 AM
FILE - In this June 28, 2020 file photo, armed homeowners Mark and Patricia McCloskey, standing in ...
FILE - In this June 28, 2020 file photo, armed homeowners Mark and Patricia McCloskey, standing in front their house along Portland Place confront protesters marching to St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson's house in the Central West End of St. Louis. St. Louis’ top prosecutor told The Associated Press on Monday, July 20, 2020 that she 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. (Laurie Skrivan/St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP File)
(Laurie Skrivan/St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP File)

ST. LOUIS (AP) — St. Louis’ top prosecutor on Monday charged a husband and wife with felony unlawful use of a weapon for displaying guns during a racial injustice protest outside their mansion.

Mark and Patricia McCloskey, who are white, are both personal injury attorneys in their 60s. Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner told The Associated Press that their actions risked creating a violent situation during an otherwise nonviolent protest last month.

“It is illegal to wave weapons in a threatening manner — that is unlawful in the city of St. Louis,” Gardner said.

An attorney for the couple, Joel Schwartz, in a statement called the decision to charge “disheartening as I unequivocally believe no crime was committed.”

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.

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.

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt said in a statement Monday that he filed a brief requesting that the charges be dismissed under the state’s Castle Doctrine.

“The right to keep and bear arms is given the highest level of protection in our constitution and our laws, including the Castle Doctrine,” Schmitt said in the statement. “This provides broad rights to Missourians who are protecting their property and lives from those who wish to do them harm.”

Sen. Josh Hawley, R-MO, said on Twitter that the charges were an “unacceptable abuse of power and threat to the Second Amendment.” He called for a federal civil rights investigation into the St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office to “determine whether this investigation and impending prosecution violates this family’s constitutional rights.”

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.

Mark McCloskey confronted protesters with a semi-automatic rifle, screamed at them and pointed the weapon at them, according to a probable statement from police officer Curtis Burgdorf. The statement said Patricia McCloskey then emerged with a semi-automatic handgun, yelling at protesters to “go” and pointing the gun at them. Protesters feared “being injured due to Patricia McCloskey’s finger being on the trigger, coupled with her excited demeanor,” the statement said.

No shots were fired.

Photos emerged as memes on both sides of the gun debate.

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.

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.”

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.”

___

This story has been updated to remove an incorrect reference to a second charge, a misdemeanor. No misdemeanor charge was filed.

Today’s Top Stories

All News

Nichole Thomas, Pioneer Park Coalition member and Latter-day Brides owner, speaks during a Pioneer ...
Mark Jones

Pioneer Park Coalition announces plan to combat crime, homelessness

On Thursday, the Pioneer Park Coalition announced a three-pronged plan to combat homelessness and crime in Salt Lake City.
1 day ago
Salt Lake City police are investigating a shooting Thursday evening, Oct. 6, 2022, at Meadows Park....
Mark Jones

Salt Lake City Police investigating shooting at Meadows Park

One teenager suffered non-life-threatening injuries following a shooting Thursday evening at Meadows Park.
1 day ago
Salt Lake County DA Sim Gill speaking behind a podium...
Devin Oldroyd

Salt Lake County DA discusses Biden’s pardon of marijuana possession

Following President Biden announced pardons for thousands of people convicted of marijuana possession federally, Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill discusses what this means for the Beehive State.
1 day ago
Police in Tooele are looking for an armed robbery suspect that forced three schools into lockdown o...
Mark Jones

Search for wanted fugitive in Tooele is unsuccessful

Law enforcement personnel in Tooele conducted a search for a fugitive on Thursday afternoon. The search was unsuccessful.
1 day ago
Serial Bank Robber...
Mark Jones

FBI seeking information on whereabouts of serial bank robber

The FBI says a serial bank robber has recently robbed a pair of banks in Salt Lake City. Authorities are seeking the public's assistance in locating the individual responsible.
1 day ago
DACA march...
Alejandro Lucero

DACA ruled illegal by court, but current “Dreamers” still protected

Current Dreamers are still protected by the law and can continue to renew their applications, but new applicants are barred.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Young woman receiving laser treatment...
Form Derm Spa

How facial plastic surgery and skincare are joining forces

Facial plastic surgery is not only about looking good but about feeling good too. The medical team at Form Spa are trained to help you reach your aesthetic outcomes through surgery and through skincare and dermatology, too.
large group of friends tohether in a park having fun...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

What differentiates BYU’s MBA program from other MBA programs

Commitment to service is at the heart of BYU’s MBA program, which makes it stand out among other MBA programs across the country.
a worker with a drill in an orange helmet installs a door in the house...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

Home improvement tip: Increase the value of your home by weatherproofing doors

Make sure your home is comfortable before the winter! Seasonal maintenance keeps your home up to date. Read our tips on weatherproofing doors.
Curb Appeal...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

How to have the best of both worlds for your house | Home security and curb appeal

Protect your home and improve its curb appeal with the latest security solutions like beautiful garage doors and increased security systems.
A paper reading IRS, internal revenue service is pictured...
Jordan Wilcox

The best strategies for dealing with IRS tax harassment | You have options!

Learn how to deal with IRS tax harassment. This guide will teach you how to stop IRS phone calls and letters, and how to handle an IRS audit.
spend a day at Bear Lake...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

You’ll love spending the day at Bear Lake | How to spend a day at Bear Lake

Bear Lake is a place that needs to be experienced. Spend a day at Bear Lake.
St. Louis couple charged for pulling, waving guns at protest