Missouri Gov. Mike Parson says he is ready to grant a pardon if prosecutors bring criminal charges against a St. Louis couple who wielded firearms from their front yard as a group of protesters marched through their neighborhood.
The Republican governor on Friday told a St. Louis radio station he thinks a pardon is “exactly what would happen” if Mark and Patricia McCloskey are charged in the June 28 incident.
“Right now, that’s what I feel,” he said. “You don’t know until you hear all the facts. But right now, if this is all about going after them for doing a lawful act, then yeah, if that’s scenario ever happened, I don’t think they’re going to spend any time in jail.”
“I don’t think they’re going to spend any time in jail,” Parson said, adding that the couple “did what they legally should do.”
“A mob does not have the right to charge your property. They had every right to protect themselves,” he said.
He later wrote on Twitter: “We will not allow law-abiding citizens to be targeted for exercising their constitutional rights.”
We will not allow law-abiding citizens to be targeted for exercising their constitutional rights. https://t.co/6t5dUxdVgp
— Mike Parson (@mikeparson) July 18, 2020
St. Louis police applied for warrants last week in the McCloskey case, according to reports.
“St. Louis Police Chief John Hayden on Tuesday told News 4 they applied for warrants but did not elaborate on what those warrants allege or who they are against. The guns were turned over to police as evidence,” KMOV reported.
The McCloskeys aimed guns at Black Lives Matter protesters after a group of some 300 protesters came into their neighborhood in St. Louis on June 28. The two have defended their actions by saying they felt their lives were in danger.
“The hostility is what I noticed,” Hayden told KMOV. “I don’t want to see guns out when people are very hostile and angry at each other. Those are recipes for violence, so again we applied on warrant, there’s been follow up information and we are waiting on the decision on the warrant application.”
On July 10, law enforcement authorities in St. Louis executed a search warrant at the home of the couple. Two local news stations, KMOV and KSDK, reported that the warrant was carried out Friday night in St. Louis’s affluent Central West End neighborhood.
KSDK reported that the search resulted in police seizing the rifle that Mark McCloskey was seen holding during the incident.
According to police reports, the McCloskeys told police that they heard a disturbance and saw “a large group of subjects forcefully break an iron gate marked with ‘No Trespassing’ and ‘Private Street’ signs.”
“The group began yelling obscenities and threats of harm to both victims,” St. Louis police told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “When the victims observed multiple subjects who were armed, they then armed themselves and contacted police.”
“It was shocking. The gate came in. Seemingly everybody in the world came forward. I think the estimate is 300-500 people,” Mark McCloskey told Fox News on Tuesday.
“They came right towards us. We were preparing to have dinner on the porch and we were literally 70 feet from the gate. By the time we got our guns, by the time I got my gun, the crowd was probably 30 or 40 feet from us. We thought it was the end. People were screaming everything,” he said.
Asked what the protesters were shouting at them, Patricia McClosky said: ‘That they were going to kill us, they were going to come in there, they were going to burn down the house, they were going to be living in our house after I was dead.’
St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner, the city’s prosecutor, vowed to investigate the matter.
“My office is currently working with the public and the police to investigate these events,” she said on June 29. “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.”