Charges were filed Monday for one felony count of unlawful use of a weapon against the St. Louis couple, who both happen to be lawyers, for aiming weapons at aggressive protesters who crashed through a gate and marched through their upscale community last month.
Mark and Patricia McCloskey, a married couple who are both lawyers in Missouri, said they were defending their home on a private street in their neighborhood from a crowd that was protesting and marching towards Mayor Lyda Krewson’s house. The couple have found themselves in a situation where videos and photos showing Mark with a rifle and Patricia with a pistol have created a storm of controversy between those who think the couple has a right to defend their home and those who claim they were harassing peaceful protesters.
St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner, who was responsible for filing charges against the McCloskeys, said she chose the reformist approach for this low-level crime and did not order that they be arrested. Instead, summonses were issued, and Gardner said she would consider them for a diversion program, which allows the charges to be dismissed if they attended counseling. If not, the charge could deliver a sentence ranging from a few months of probation to four years in prison.
Mark McCloskey said on Fox News Monday night that, “It’s a totally upside-down world. The prosecutor apparently thinks her job isn’t to keep us safe from criminals, but to keep the criminals safe from us. … We’re not going to apologize for doing what’s right.”
Their attorney, Joel J. Schwartz, said the charges are “disheartening, as I unequivocally believe no crime was committed.” He said that the couple “supports 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 contends that “it is illegal to wave weapons in a threatening manner at those participating in nonviolent protest.” She indicated that if the McCloskeys completed a diversion program that it “would serve as a fair resolution to this matter.”
Missouri Governor Mike Parson said in a radio interview last week that he would probably pardon the couple if they were charged. “I think that’s exactly what would happen,” Parson told host Marc Cox. “I don’t think they’re going to spend any time in jail.” The governor followed those comments with a post on social media saying, “We will not allow law-abiding citizens to be targeted for exercising their constitutional rights.”
The governor of Missouri has called for Gardner’s resignation, and Senator Josh Hawley demanded that she be investigated for civil rights violations. In addition, the mayor has received death threats, and racist insults due to the debate of protesters’ rights vs. the self-defense and Second Amendment rights of homeowners.
The McCloskeys claim they acted appropriately after “a mob” smashed their way through the private community’s gate. “The only thing that stopped the crowd from approaching the house was when I had that rifle,” Mark McCloskey said in an interview. “[It was] the only thing that stemmed the tide.”