St. Louis prosecutors charged Patricia McCloskey and husband Mark with felony unlawful use of a weapon counts on Monday for aiming their guns at Black Lives Matter protesters June 28 in front of their St. Louis mansion. File Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo
July 20 (UPI) -- St. Louis prosecutors filed felony charges on Monday against a couple who brandished guns in front of their luxury mansion at protestors walking past during a June demonstration.
"It is illegal to wave weapons in a threatening manner at those participating in nonviolent protest," said Kimberly Gardner, St. Louis circuit attorney in a statement. "We are fortunate this situation did not escalate into deadly force. This type of conduct is unacceptable in St. Louis."
Mark and Patricia McCloskey were each charged with a felony count of unlawful exhibiting of a weapon.
Protesters walked through the gated community of Portland Place on June 28, as Mark McCloskey pointed an AR-15 rifle at them while his wife waved a semiautomatic handgun, placing protesters in fear of injury, charging documents said.
St. Louis police seized the couple's guns on July 10.
The McCloskeys' lawyer Joel Schwartz said in a statement that the charges were "disheartening" and said "I unequivocally believe no crime was committed."
"The First Amendment right of every citizen to have their voice and opinion heard ... must be balanced with the Second Amendment," Schwartz added, saying Missouri law permitted citizens to protect their property from potential threats.
At the time, Mark McCloskey said he felt threatened.
"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 for our lives," Mark McCloskey said.
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson said Friday in a radio interview that he would likely pardon the McCloskeys if they were convicted of charges.
"By all means, I would, and I think that's exactly what would happen," Parson said. "If this is all about going after them because they ... did a lawful act, then, yeah, if that scenario in fact happened, I don't think they're going to spend any time in jail."