The leading St. Louis city prosecutor is considering pressing charges against a Missouri lawyer couple after they were seen brandishing guns at protesters outside their $1.15million mansion.
Mark McCloskey, 63, and his wife Patricia McCloskey, 61, were seen in multiple videos and photos on Sunday evening touting an AR-15 rifle and a handgun as protesters marched.
The couple claimed they ‘feared for our lives’ after the protesters allegedly broke down the gate into their private community and threatened them.
The pair were the only ones to lodge an official police report about the confrontation citing ‘threats of harm’ and police said Monday they would not be charged.
Yet St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly Gardner announced Monday that she was working with police and prosecutors to investigate the lawyers for possible threats against the crowd.
St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly Gardner said she was ‘alarmed’ that ‘peaceful protesters were met by guns’ and that she is investigating the McCloskey couple despite police saying they were the only ones to file a report and there would be no charges against them
Armed homeowners, Patty and Mark McCloskey, stand in front their house along Portland Place and confront protesters marching to St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson’s house on Sunday
Patricia McCloskey drew a firearm on protesters as walked in front of her house on Sunday
‘I am alarmed at the events that occurred over the weekend, where peaceful protesters were met by guns and a violent assault,’ Gardner said in a video statement Monday evening.
‘We must protect the right to peacefully protest, and any attempt to chill it through intimidation or threat of deadly force will not be tolerated,’ she insisted.
‘Since learning of these events over this weekend, I’ve worked with the public and the police to investigate these tragic events.
‘Make no mistake, the circuit attorney’s office we will not tolerate the use of force against those exercising their First Amendment rights, and will use the full power of Missouri law to hold people accountable,’ Gardner warned.
While the couple has had support for their actions they have also met with backlash.
The pair are both personal injury lawyers and run McCloskey Law Center from inside their extravagant home. The company’s website was taken offline on Monday afternoon because of the large influx of emails and the couple has said they have been forced to board up their office.
According to St. Louis Today, a Democrat running for a state Senate seat also refused to take a donation from them and instead donated it to the gun safety campaign group Moms Demand Action.
An attorney for the couple has insisted that they ‘acted lawfully on their property’.
Albert Watkins said on Monday that the couple are long-time civil rights advocates and support the message of the Black Lives Matter movement.
He said they grabbed their guns when two or three protesters – who were white – violently threatened the couple and their property and that of their neighbors.
‘Their actions were borne solely of fear and apprehension, the genesis of which was not race-related. In fact, the agitators responsible for the trepidation were white,’ Watkins said in a statement.
‘The peaceful protesters were not the subject of scorn or disdain by the McCloskeys.
‘To the contrary, they were expecting and supportive of the message of the protesters.
Gardner also issued this statement about the investigation on Monday evening
‘The most important thing for them is that their images (holding the guns) don’t become the basis for a rallying cry for people who oppose the Black Lives Matter message,’ he added.
‘They want to make it really clear that they believe the Black Lives Matter message is important.’
Video of the McCloskeys went viral Sunday night after they were seen aiming the guns at demonstrators who walked by their palatial property in the wealthy Forest Park area at around 6pm on Sunday.
Protesters were en route to Mayor Lyda Krewson’s home to demand her resignation after she released the names and addresses of residents who had suggested defunding the police department.
The video of the couple’s standoff has been viewed more than 13million times as of Tuesday with some supporting the pair’s right to protect their private property and others claiming that they broke the law by threatening a peaceful protest.
At one point, the pair seemed to be unknowingly pointing their weapons at one another other while trying to keep protesters away from their home – dubbed the Niemann Mansion.
In the video, demonstrators chanted ‘Let’s Go’ as the couple stood their ground at their front door, patrolling back and forth.
Mark McCloskey could be seen carrying a firearm as protesters entered his neighborhood
About 300 protesters had gone through a gate into this closed-off community and were marching in front of the McCloskey home, which is pictured center. The family said they were having dinner outside when the demonstrators arrived
The private road entrance to Portland Place where protesters allegedly broke down a gate Sunday
One video posted to Twitter of the demonstration shows the woman holding her gun at a protester who is wearing a t-shirt that reads, ‘Hands up, don’t shoot’.
The individual appeared to be trying to get people to move away from the house at the time.
Patricia McCloskey is seen moving closer to the protesters speaking to them as some stand and argue back.
Other demonstrators are heard shouting at everyone to ‘Go’ as the woman continues waving her handgun at them from her front lawn and Mark McCloskey watched from the front door with his rifle.
Police said Monday that people in the crowd yelled threats at the couple and that the McCloskeys would not be charged.
They added that they are still investigating but labeled it a case of trespassing and assault by intimidation against the couple by protesters in the racially diverse crowd.
St. Louis police confirmed they were called to Portland Place at around 7.20pm on Sunday night for an incident involving trespassing and assault 4th intimidation after the McCloskeys issued a ‘call for help’.
‘The victims stated they were on their property when they heard a loud commotion coming from the street. When the victims went to investigate the commotion, they observed a large group of subjects forcefully break an iron gate marked with “No Trespassing” and “Private Street” signs,’ police said.
‘Once through the gate, the victims advised the group that they were on a private street and trespassing and told them to leave. The group began yelling obscenities and threats of harm to both victims.
Husband and wife, Mark and Patricia McCloskey are both personal injury lawyers
‘When the victims observed multiple subjects who were armed, they then armed themselves and contacted police. The investigation is ongoing.’
In interviews Monday, Mark McCloskey compared the protesters to the storming of the Bastille and branded them ‘Marxists’ and ‘terrorists’ who were part of a revolution that did not really care about Black Lives Matter.
He noted that he had previously represented a black man who was the victim of police violence.
He also said that the only pulled out his gun from his house when the protesters smashed through a gate into their private property, sharing pictures of the destroyed gateway.
‘A mob of at least 100 smashed through the historic wrought iron gates of Portland Place, destroying them, rushed towards my home where my family was having dinner outside and put us in fear of our lives,’ he said.
‘This is all private property. There are no public sidewalks or public streets. We were told that we would be killed, our home burned and our dog killed. We were all alone facing an angry mob.’
His claims appear to stand in contrast with a livestreamed video from a protesters that shows them walking through the open and intact gate and immediately being met with an armed Mark McCloskey.
According to the NRA, state law does not prohibit the open carrying of firearms, but does prohibit exhibiting ‘any weapon readily capable of lethal use’ in an angry or threatening manner in the presence of one or more persons.
Exhibiting a weapon in this way would likely be a Class D felony punishable by up to four years in prison and a fine not to exceed $5,000.
According to the St. Louis American, however, the ‘Castle Doctrine’ allows people to use deadly force to attack an intruder on their property.