A lawyer, who with his wife pointed guns at protesters marching past their St. Louis mansion, has lashed out at the city’s top prosecutor for filing charges against the couple.
Mark McCloskey on Fox News Monday night accused St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner of siding with ‘criminals,’ after he and his wife were charged with felony unlawful use of a weapon for displaying guns during a racial injustice protest June 28.
The white couple have claimed the protesters, who were marching in response to the Black Lives Matter movement, were trespassing on private property.
Mark McCloskey (pictured on Fox News Monday night) accused St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner of siding with ‘criminals,’ after he and his wife were charged with felony unlawful use of a weapon for displaying guns during a racial injustice protest June 28
Mark and Patricia McCloskey (pictured) have claimed the protesters, who were marching in response to the Black Lives Matter movement, were trespassing on private property
‘The circuit attorney has apparently decided that her job as a prosecutor isn’t to keep us safe from criminals but to help keep criminals safe from us,’ McCloskey said on Tucker Carlson Tonight.
Gardner, who announced the charges to the Associated Press Monday, called it ‘illegal to wave weapons in a threatening manner – that is unlawful in the city of St. Louis.’
She is recommending a diversion program such as community service rather than jail time if the McCloskeys are convicted. Typically, class E felonies could result in up to four years in prison.
Gardner, who announced the charges against the McCloskeys to the Associated Press Monday, called it ‘illegal to wave weapons in a threatening manner – that is unlawful in the city of St. Louis.’
Gardner declined to answer when asked why Missouri’s ‘Castle Doctrine’, which allows homeowners to defend their intruders, did not apply to the McCloskeys.
The prosecutor’s move was called ‘outrageous’ by Missouri Governor Mike Parson. Parson, who while in the state Legislature co-authored the doctrine law.
As the governor mentioned his displeasure with the prosecutor in a tweet Monday, Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt had already moved to take legal action to dismiss the decision.
As Parson tweeted his disapproval over Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner’s decision to prosecute Mark and Patricia McCloskey, State Attorney General Eric Schmitt (right) was already taking legal steps to have the move dismissed
The prosecutor’s move was called ‘outrageous’ by Missouri Governor Mike Parson in a tweet he wrote Monday
Schmitt, who revealed to Fox News that he had filed a brief Monday to throw out Gardner’s decision, told the cable news network that ‘the right to keep and bear arms is given the highest level of protection in our constitution and our laws, including the Castle Doctrine.’
The state attorney general explained in a statement to Fox News that the doctrine law, ‘provides broad rights to Missourians who are protecting their property and lives from those who wish to do them harm’.
‘Despite this, Circuit Attorney Gardner filed suit against the McCloskeys, who, according to published reports, were defending their property and safety. As Missouri’s Chief law enforcement officer, I won’t stand by while Missouri law is being ignored,’ Schmitt said in the brief, which requests an immediate dismissal.
An attorney for the McCloskeys, Joel Schwartz, in a statement called the decision to charge the couple ‘disheartening as I unequivocally believe no crime was committed.’
Supporters of the McCloskeys, both personal injury lawyers in their 60s, have agreed the couple were legally defending their $1.15 million home.
Photos and video footage emerged from the incident, generating memes on both sides of the gun debate.
Around 300 protesters made their way into the closed-off community and marched in front of the property. The couple said they were defending their home
Parson was among several Republican leaders who blasted Gardner’s investigation, including President Donald Trump, and Sen. Josh Hawley, who urged Attorney General William Barr to undertake a civil rights investigation of Gardner.
Gardner said Trump, Parson and others are attacking her to distract from ‘their failed approach to the COVID-19 pandemic’ and other issues.
St. Louis, like many cities across the country, has seen demonstrations in the weeks since George Floyd’s police-related death in Minneapolis on Memorial Day.
The McCloskeys’ home ended up getting caught up in one of the demonstrations marchers passed through on June 28.
Several hundred people at the time were marching to the home of Democratic Mayor Lyda Krewson, a few blocks from the McCloskeys’ home. Krewson had angered activists by reading on Facebook Live the names and addresses of some who had called for defunding police.
The McCloskeys, who live on a private street called Portland Place, heard a loud commotion and saw a large group of people break an iron gate marked with ‘No Trespassing’ and ‘Private Street’ signs, according to a police report.
A protest leader, the Rev. Darryl Gray, said the gate was open and that protesters didn’t damage it.
Video posted online showed Mark McCloskey wielding a long-barreled gun and Patricia McCloskey waving a small handgun. No shots were fired.
On July 10 the McCloskeys’ home was searched, and Mr McCloskey’s AR-15 assault rifle was seized. Arrangements were also made to turn over the handgun wielded by Mrs McCloskey.
In a seperarte interview with Fox News on Saturday, McCloskey expressed pride in his wife for her gun wielding actions. ‘I was always surprised to see her out there facing off (the) welfare crowd,’ he said.
‘I grabbed my rifle and I was standing up on the porch – and all of a sudden I see her in the front yard with our pistol in her hand. What a woman.’
Trump spoke by phone with Parson last week to criticize Gardner’s investigation. Parson also had said that the McCloskeys ‘had every right to protect their property.’
Mark McCloskey appeared on Fox News on Saturday to discuss the July 10 raid on his home and said about his wife, ‘I was always surprised to see her out there facing off (the) welfare crowd’
The couple’s attorney Schwartz said the McCloskeys ‘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.’
Another attorney for the couple, Albert Watkins, has said they grabbed their guns when two or three white protesters threatened the couple, their property and that of their neighbors.
Gardner, St. Louis’ first Black circuit attorney, has been at odds with some in the St. Louis establishment since her election in 2016.
Most notably, her office charged then-Gov. Eric Greitens with felony invasion of privacy in 2018 for allegedly taking a compromising photo of a woman during an extramarital affair. The charge was eventually dropped, but Greitens resigned in June 2018.
A private investigator Gardner hired to investigate the claims against Greitens was later indicted for perjury for allegedly lying during a deposition. His case is pending.
Gardner also has butted heads with police leaders, especially after she developed an ‘exclusion list’ of more than two dozen officers who were barred from serving as primary witnesses in criminal cases over what Gardner called credibility concerns. The move angered Police Chief John Hayden, who also is Black.
In January, Gardner filed a federal lawsuit accusing the city, the police union and others of a coordinated and racist conspiracy aimed at forcing her out of office. The lawsuit also accused ‘entrenched interests’ of intentionally impeding her efforts to change racist practices.
Several Black leaders in St. Louis have expressed support for Gardner, including Democratic U.S. Rep. William Lacy Clay, who has said protesters ‘should never be subject to the threat of deadly force, whether by individuals or by the police.’