A couple pointed guns at protesters who were on private property outside their home Sunday night, as the demonstrators marched past on their way to St. Louis mayor Lyda Krewson’s residence to demand her resignation. Police are now investigating the incident to determine whether the protesters committed trespassing and fourth-degree assault by intimidation.
Mark and Patricia McCloskey stood outside their home on Portland Place, a private street, as hundreds of protesters, some of them armed, marched by and chanted. The McCloskeys had been inside their home when they heard loud activity outside and saw “a large group of subjects forcefully break an iron gate marked with ‘No Trespassing’ and ‘Private Street’ signs,” St. Louis police said.
“The group began yelling obscenities and threats of harm to both victims,” the police said. “When the victims observed multiple subjects who were armed, they then armed themselves and contacted police.”
Law experts have noted that Missouri’s Castle Doctrine allows homeowners to use deadly force to defend their private property from intruders.
In an interview with KSDK, the local NBC affiliate, Mark McCloskey said that he called to the protesters that they were on private property and told them to leave when they first broke through the gate. When they did not, he got his rifle and stood outside, continuing to tell the crowd that they were on private property.
“At that point, everybody got enraged,” McCloskey said. “There were people wearing body armor. One person pulled out some loaded pistol magazines and clicked them together and said that you were next. We were threatened with our lives, threatened with the house being burned down, my office building being burned down, even our dog’s life being threatened. It was about as bad as it can get.”
“I really thought it was storming the Bastille, that we would be dead and the house would be burned and there was nothing we could do about it. It was a huge and frightening crowd,” he added.
Albert Watkins, an attorney for the McCloskeys, said that the couple felt threatened after “two individuals exhibited such force and violence destroying a century-plus-old wrought iron gate, ripping and twisting the wrought iron that was connected to a rock foundation, and then proceeded to charge at and toward and speak threateningly to Mr. and Mrs. McCloskey.”
The McCloskeys’ Renaissance palazzo mansion is valued at $1.15 million, according to city records. The couple are attorneys who work together in a law office that has now been boarded up due to threats they’ve received since the incident.