A St. Louis man who drew a gun on demonstrators who were in his neighborhood to protest the city’s mayor defended himself in an interview with NBC, telling a reporter that he and his wife feared for their lives.
Video posted online showed Mark McCloskey, 63, and his 61-year-old wife, Patricia, standing outside their mansion Sunday night in the city’s well-to-do Central West End neighborhood as protesters marched toward the mayor’s home to demand her resignation. He could be heard yelling while holding a long-barreled gun.
“We were threatened with our lives,” Mark McCloskey said, claiming one of the protesters was armed. “Threatened with the house burning down.”
McCloskey also defended the action of his wife, who stood next to him with a handgun and at times pointed it directly at protesters with her finger on the trigger, according to a photographer at the scene.
“I can’t blame my wife for being terrified and for doing what she could to protect what she thought was her life,” he said.
A couple in St. Louis pointed guns at protesters as hundreds of people made their way into an upscale private neighborhood.— TODAY (@TODAYshow) June 30, 2020
Two homeowners say they were just trying to protect their property and their family, but one official vows to hold them accountable, @miguelnbc reports. pic.twitter.com/LqWEnacueL
No charges were brought against the McCloskeys. Police said they were still investigating but labeled it a case of trespassing and assault by intimidation against the couple by protesters in the racially diverse crowd.
However, Circuit Attorney Kimberly Gardner issued a statement later Monday characterizing what happened differently and saying her office was working with police to investigate the confrontation.
“I am alarmed at the events that occurred over the weekend, where peaceful protesters were met by guns and a violent assault,” she said. “We must protect the right to peacefully protest, and any attempt to chill it through intimidation or threat of deadly force will not be tolerated.”
An attorney for the couple told the Associated Press that the couple supports the message of the Black Lives Matter movement.
“The most important thing for them is that their images [holding the guns] don’t become the basis for a rallying cry for people who oppose the Black Lives Matter message,” Albert Watkins said. “They want to make it really clear that they believe the Black Lives Matter message is important.”