St. Louis Prosecutor Will Investigate Couple Who Pointed Guns at Protesters Outside Home
A St. Louis prosecutor will investigate the couple seen in a viral video pointing guns at protesters outside their home, saying she’s “alarmed” by the response to the demonstrators.
“I am alarmed at the events that occurred over the weekend, where peaceful protesters were met by guns and a violent assault,” Circuit Attorney Kimberly M. Gardner said in a statement posted to the office’s Twitter account on Monday.
(The alleged violent assault references a separate incident that didn't involve the McCloskeys.)
“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. My office is currently working with the public and police to investigate the events. 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.”
No charges have been filed as of Wednesday morning.
Video taken Sunday night shows two people, later identified as personal injury lawyers Mark and Patricia McCloskey, a married couple who are white, brandishing guns in front of a large crowd of protesters outside their home. Mark is holding a large assault weapon, while Patricia is holding a pistol.
The protesters were headed to the nearby home of St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson, and were calling on the mayor to resign. Krewson caused an uproar on June 26 when, on a Facebook Live broadcast, she read aloud the names and addresses of constituents who called for defunding the police and redirecting the money to social services. Krewson later apologized on Twitter and removed the Facebook video.
Police have said the McCloskeys’ street is private, and that protesters broke down a gate to gain access.
A police statement obtained by NBC News and other outlets says, “Once through the gate, the victims advised the group that they were on a private street and trespassing and told them to leave.”
The statement adds, “The group began yelling obscenities and threats of harm to both victims. When the victims observed multiple subjects who were armed, they then armed themselves and contacted police.”
It’s unclear if police are investigating possible charges against the protesters.
Mark McCloskey told KMOV the protesters allegedly threatened the couple, their house and their dog. He alleged that one man “pulled out two pistol magazines, clicked them together and said 'you’re next.’ That was the first death threat we got that night.”
However, the police assertion that the McCloskeys picked up their guns after being threatened was apparently contradicted by Mark McCloskey himself, who told KMOV, “The threats happened probably after we got the guns.”
Missouri State Representative Rasheen Aldridge, who organized the protest, said he did not hear any threats from protesters. There have been no reports of violence.
Aldridge acknowledged to KMOV that protesters were aware the street was private, saying, “Just like in many disobedient protests, even in the '60s, you break laws, make people feel uncomfortable. We’re not doing anything where we’re hurting anyone or putting anyone in danger.”
Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Sign up for PEOPLE's free True Crime newsletter for breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases.
The McCloskeys’ attorney, Albert Watkins, said in a statement to PEOPLE the couple is supportive of the Black Lives Matter movement, but he said they "acted lawfully on their property" in brandishing their guns.
In a statement to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Watkins referred to the couple as “melanin-deficient human beings.”
“Their entire practice tenure as counsel [has] been addressing the needs of the downtrodden, for whom the fight for civil rights is necessary,” Watkins said. “My clients, as melanin-deficient human beings, are completely respectful of the message Black Lives Matter needs to get out, especially to whites.”
In an interview with Mark McCloskey on Tuesday, CNN anchor Chris Cuomo asked how it felt that the couple had become “the face of political resistance to the Black Lives Matter movement."
McCloskey replied, “I’m not the face of anything opposing the Black Lives Matter movement.”
He added, “I was a person scared for my life who was protecting my wife, my home, my hearth, my livelihood.”
In 2018, St. Louis Magazine wrote a feature story about how the McCloskeys renovated their Renaissance palazzo mansion. The Post-Dispatch, citing city records, reports the home is appraised at $1.15 million.
Congressman Lacy Clay, who represents St. Louis, said in a statement posted to Twitter: “The rights of non-violent protestors are guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and should never be subject to the threat of deadly force, whether by individuals or by the police.”
Clay added, “The incident which occurred last night on Portland Place was shameful, irresponsible, and could have easily ended in another tragedy.”
• With reporting by JEFF TRUESDELL