A St. Louis couple who pointed guns at peaceful Black Lives Matter protesters are under investigation for possible criminal charges. Husband and wife Mark and Patricia McCloskey went viral on Twitter Monday (June 29) after protesters filmed them brandishing an AR-15-style rifle and silver shotgun while protesters marched past their mansion.
“I am alarmed at the events that occurred over the weekend, where peaceful protestors were met by guns,” St. Louis Chief Prosecutor Kimberly Gardner, who confirmed the investigation against the McCloskeys, wrote on Twitter. “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.”
“Make no mistake: 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 added.
However, according to the St. Louis American, Mark and Patricia filed a police report with the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department on Sunday (June 28) following the confrontation on which they are listed as “victims” in the incident. In the report, the couple claimed they grabbed their firearms after they were “threatened with [their] lives” and “observed multiple [protesters] who were armed,” despite eye-witness video accounts showing the McCloskeys were already armed when protesters appeared.
The couple has already hired an attorney, who claims they “acted lawfully on their property.”
“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,” their lawyer Albert S. Watkins told the St. Louis American. “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.”
According to Missouri state law, brandishing “any weapon readily capable of lethal use in an angry or threatening manner” is unlawful and can be punishable with a Class D felony, up to four years of imprisonment and a $5,000 fine. However, the state also has an expansive self-defense law, which allows a homeowner to use deadly force against intruders.
The New York Post reports that protesters had been on their way to St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson’s home to demand her resignation, after she released the names and addresses of anti-police brutality protesters to the public.