St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner confirmed, late Monday, that her office is looking into whether a pair of homeowners, Mark and Patricia McCloskey, broke any laws when they responded to protests in their gated community by brandishing a pair of firearms.
Earlier reports indicated that police officials were looking into whether protesters, who are alleged to have broken into the couple’s secluded, gated community in the city’s Central West End district, for threats made to the couple and others in the neighborhood, as they marched past mansions on their way to the mayor’s home, also located in the Central West End.
As The Daily Wire reported Monday, the police are “labeling [the incident] as a case of trespassing and fourth-degree assault by intimidation.”
The McCloskeys, who released a statement Tuesday in support of the protests and the Black Lives Matter movement as a whole, say they were threatened by protesters who smashed a gate leading into their neighborhood.
“At that point, everybody got enraged,” Mark McCloskey said in an interview Monday. “There were people wearing body armor. One person pulled out some loaded pistol magazines and clicked them together and said that you were next. We were threatened with our lives, threatened with the house being burned down, my office building being burned down, even our dog’s life being threatened. It was about as bad as it can get.”
“I really thought it was storming the Bastille, that we would be dead and the house would be burned and there was nothing we could do about it. It was a huge and frightening crowd,” McCloskey added.
The pair were seen in photos posted to social media both brandishing firearms, McCloskey with an AR-15, his wife with a small handgun.
Gardner said late Monday that, although the McCloskeys are likely protected by Missouri’s “Last Castle” doctrine, which authorizes the use of deadly force to protect property, it is unclear precisely what happened causing the McCloskeys to respond with threatened violence, according to the local St. Louis news outlet, Riverfront Times.
The St. Louis Circuit attorney’s office issued a statement noting that Gardner is “alarmed at the events that occurred over the weekend, where peaceful protesters were met by guns and a violent assault,” and that her office is “currently working with the public and police to investigate these events.”
“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,” Gardner concluded.
Videos from the protest seem to show, though, that protesters entered the gated community unlawfully, breaking down a gate that protected the group of mansions from the public at large.
One legal expert who spoke with St. Louis Today says he believes the McCloskeys were within their legal rights.
“At any point that you enter the property, they can then, in Missouri, use deadly force to get you off the lawn,” he said. “There’s no right to protest on those streets. The protesters thought they had a right to protest, but as a technical matter, they were not allowed to be there. … It’s essentially a private estate. If anyone was violating the law, it was the protesters. In fact, if [the McCloskeys] have photos of the protesters, they could go after them for trespassing.”
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