Law & the Courts

St. Louis Couple Charged for Waving Guns at Protesters

A man and woman draw their firearms on protestors as they enter their neighborhood during a protest in St. Louis, Mo., June 28, 2020. (Lawrence Bryant/Reuters)

St. Louis’ top prosecutor has charged Mark and Patricia McCloskey, the couple who pointed guns at protesters marching by their mansion last month, with felony unlawful use of a weapon.

The McCloskeys, who are both personal injury attorneys in their 60s, also face a misdemeanor charge of fourth-degree assault, the Associated Press reported.

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

Many have defended the McCloskeys, saying they were legally protecting their $1.15 million home as several hundred protesters marched by on their way to the mayor’s home a few blocks away. 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, according to a police report. 

A protest leader has disputed this version of events, saying the gate was open and undamaged.

Mark McCloskey allegedly met protesters with a semi-automatic rifle, screaming and pointing the gun at them before his wife joined him with a semi-automatic handgun, yelling at protesters to “go” and pointing it at them. No shots were fired.

An attorney for the couple, Joel Schwartz, in a statement called Gardner’s decision to charge “disheartening.”

“I unequivocally believe no crime was committed,” he said.

Gardner is recommending a diversion program such as community service rather than jail time if they are convicted, though Missouri Governor Mike Parson said in a radio interview Friday that he would likely pardon the couple if they were convicted.

Parson, who co-authored Missouri’s “castle doctrine” law that justifies deadly force for those who are defending their homes from intruders, has said that the McCloskeys “had every right to protect their property.”

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