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St. Louis couple who waved guns at protesters are indicted

Mark McCloskey addresses the media alongside his wife, Patricia, on Tuesday.
Mark McCloskey addresses the media alongside his wife, Patricia, on Tuesday outside a St. Louis courthouse.
(Laurie Skrivan / St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

A grand jury Tuesday indicted the St. Louis couple who displayed guns while hundreds of people protesting against racial injustice marched on their private street.

Al Watkins, an attorney for Mark McCloskey, 63, and Patricia McCloskey, 61, confirmed the indictments against them. A spokeswoman for Circuit Atty. Kim Gardner declined comment.

The McCloskeys, who are both personal-injury attorneys, have become heroes to some conservatives. They argue that they were simply exercising their 2nd Amendment right to bear arms and were protected by a Missouri law that allows the use of deadly force against intruders. The case has caught the attention of President Trump, and Republican Missouri Gov. Mike Parson has said he will pardon the couple if they are convicted.

The McCloskeys also were featured speakers on the first night of the Republican National Convention. They’ve accused St. Louis’ Democratic leadership in their plight.

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Gardner, a Democrat, charged the couple with felony unlawful use of a weapon. She said the display of guns risked bloodshed at what she called an otherwise peaceful protest.

Watkins said that, in addition to the weapons charge, the grand jury indictment includes a charge of tampering with evidence. It wasn’t clear what led to that additional count, he said, adding that the accusations against his clients demonstrated “the highest degree of ineptitude and inappropriate behavior” by Gardner’s office.

The demonstration may have been linked to the weekend shooting of an unarmed Black man in Texas whose name was written by protesters at the scene.

The McCloskeys contend that the June 28 protest was hardly peaceful. They say that protesters came onto the private street after knocking over an iron gate and ignoring a “No Trespassing” sign, and that they felt threatened.

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The incident occurred as protesters were walking toward the home of Mayor Lyda Krewson a few blocks away. They suddenly decided to veer onto the McCloskeys’ street, prompting the confrontation, which was caught on cellphone video. It showed Mark McCloskey in front of the couple’s $1.15-million home armed with an AR-15 rifle and Patricia McCloskey with a semiautomatic handgun.

A police statement said protesters feared “being injured due to Patricia McCloskey’s finger being on the trigger, coupled with her excited demeanor.”

Nine people involved in the protest were charged with misdemeanor trespassing, but the city counselor’s office later dropped those charges. The city counselor’s office handles lesser crimes and is not affiliated with the circuit attorney’s office.

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Mark McCloskey, after a brief court hearing earlier Tuesday, expressed anger that he and his wife faced criminal charges while those who trespassed on his property did not.

“Every single human being that was in front of my house was a criminal trespasser,” McCloskey said. “They broke down our gate. They trespassed on our property. Not a single one of those people is now charged with anything. We’re charged with felonies that could cost us four years of our lives and our law licenses.”

The protest in St. Louis was among hundreds nationwide in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death in police custody in Minneapolis.


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