The St. Louis couple who went viral nationally for defending their home against Black Lives Matter protesters while waving their guns have been charged over the June incident.
St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner has filed charges against Mark and Patricia McCloskey of unlawful use of a weapon/flourishing, according to KSDK-TV.
In a statement announcing the charges, Gardner said the McCloskeys waved their weapons in a “threatening manner” at “peaceful, unarmed protesters,” KSDK reported.
“It is illegal to wave weapons in a threatening manner at those participating in a nonviolent protest, and while we are fortunate this situation did not escalate into deadly force, this type of conduct is unacceptable in St. Louis,” she wrote, according to KSDK.
The McCloskeys have said that they feared for their lives when protesters damaged a gate to a private street on their way to Mayor Lyda Krewson’s home to protest. Protesters posted videos of the couple pointing a pistol and an AR-15 rifle at them and yelling for them to go away.
The videos quickly went viral on social media, with many accusing the couple of racism, while others defended them on the basis of their right to defend their property.
On July 11, police served a warrant at the McCloskeys’ home and confiscated the firearms that were used in the incident, according to the couple.
A former attorney for the couple explained to reporters that the pistol Patricia McCloskey held was inoperable and was used as a prop in a federal trial.
The charge is a class D felony, and if the McCloskeys are found guilty they could face fines as steep as $5,000 and up to four years in prison.
However, the governor of Missouri has publicly stated that he supports the McCloskeys’ right to defend themselves and their property, and he added that he would consider a pardon if they were found guilty of any charges.
Not to be undone, President Donald Trump also said that he would considering interceding on the behalf of the McCloskeys.
Joel Schwartz, the current lawyer for the McCloskeys, released a statement after the charges were filed.
“I, along with my clients, support 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,” Schwartz said in part.
In July, a group of 24 neighbors to the McCloskeys released a letter condemning their actions.
“As the undersigned, we condemn the behavior of anyone who uses threats of violence, especially through the brandishing of firearms, to disrupt peaceful protest, whether it be in this neighborhood or anywhere in the United States,” the letter read.
Here’s an interview with Mark McCloskey about the incident:
Homeowner who pulled gun on protesters: I was a victim of a mob