Missouri couple who brandished guns at Black Lives Matter protesters face weapons charge

ST. LOUIS — A white St. Louis couple who pulled weapons on Black Lives Matter protesters in early June were charged Monday with one felony count of unlawful use of a weapon.

Attorneys Mark McCloskey, 61, and Patricia McCloskey, 63, have maintained they were simply defending their home from the protesters marching through their upscale neighborhood toward Mayor Lyda Krewson’s home to protest racial injustice, KMOV reported.

Attorney Kim Gardner, who filed the charges against the McCloskeys in St. Louis circuit court, issued the couple summonses rather than order their surrender and said she would consider them for a diversion program that could enable dismissal of the charge if counseling or other remedial courses are completed, The Washington Post reported.

Attorney Joel J. Schwartz, who represents the McCloskeys, called the charges “disheartening, as I unequivocally believe no crime was committed,” the Post reported.

He also said the couple supports “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.”

In Missouri, the crime of unlawful use of a weapon includes when a person “exhibits, in the presence of one or more persons, any weapon readily capable of lethal use in an angry or threatening manner.”

According to Missouri law, the crime is a Class E felony, punishable by up to four years in prison.

“It is illegal to wave weapons in a threatening matter at those participating in nonviolent protest, and while we are fortunate this situation did not escalate into deadly force, this type of conduct is unacceptable in St. Louis,” Gardner stated. “We must protect the right to peacefully protest, and any attempt to chill it through intimidation will not be tolerated.”

Meanwhile, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson told a radio host last week that based on the information he has received to date, he would most likely pardon the McCloskeys if their legal entanglement proceeds, KMOV reported.

“I don’t think they’re going to spend any time in jail,” Parson told the Marc Cox Morning Show on 97.1 FM in St. Louis.