Cops Seize Guns From St. Louis Couple Who Confronted Protesters

McCloskey lawyer anticipates charges, but says couple is protected by state law

The McCloskeys confronting protesters in front of their house on June 28, 2020 / Screenshot from Twitter
July 14, 2020

St. Louis police confiscated two guns from a local couple that confronted Black Lives Matters protesters gathered outside their home, a sign that the city may soon file charges, according to the family's lawyer.

Joel Schwartz, who represents Mark and Patricia McCloskey, told the Washington Free Beacon on Tuesday that he expects the couple to be charged with exhibiting or brandishing a firearm in a threatening manner. The attorney said it is only a matter of time until his clients are vindicated, citing a Missouri law that allows residents to defend their private property.

"People violently burst down the gate onto their private property—they had every right to defend themselves to a means necessary under the circumstances," he said. "And that's what they did."

The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department confirmed that it executed a search warrant on the McCloskeys' house on Friday. The department said the search was authorized by a judge, but would not comment on any other aspect of the investigation.

"Our Department executed a search warrant, which was issued by the Courts," a department spokeswoman told the Free Beacon. "Since the investigation is ongoing, we have no further comment to provide."

The rifle held by Mark McCloskey during the altercation was seized by police during the search, according to KSDK. The handgun held by Patricia McCloskey was turned over to police by the couple's former attorney Albert Watkins, who told the St. Louis American the gun was inoperable at the time of the incident.

The controversy stems from an altercation between the McCloskeys and a group of Black Lives Matter protesters that cut through their private property on their way to protest at the mayor's house. As the protesters entered the McCloskeys' street through a gate marked "Private"—which was destroyed at some point during the incident—the couple came out of their home holding firearms and yelled at the protesters to leave.

Schwartz said the sidewalk the crowd stood on during the altercation was, in fact, the McCloskeys' private property. Schwartz pointed out that Missouri law provides robust protections for those defending their private property. People in Missouri do not have a duty to retreat from their private property if threatened. Residents are even authorized to use force, including deadly force, against anyone who "unlawfully enters, remains after unlawfully entering, or attempts to unlawfully enter private property."

"It's a private neighborhood and each individual owns the property in front of his house including the sidewalk," he said. "It's not city property. It's private property."

The St. Louis Circuit Attorney's Office, which is handling the investigation, did not respond to a request for comment.

Mark McCloskey said he feared for his life due to threats made by some in the crowd.

"I didn't shoot anybody," he told Fox News's Tucker Carlson on Monday. "I just held my ground, protecting my house, and I'm sitting here on television tonight instead of dead or putting out the smoldering embers of my home."

No shots were fired by the McCloskeys and there were no other reports of property damage associated with the protest beyond the entrance gate. The crowd did eventually make its way to outside of the mayor's home for its protest.

Videos of the altercation went viral on social media and caused a vigorous debate over whether or not the McCloskeys, who are white, were justified in pointing their firearms at members of the crowd, which included mostly black people.

Schwartz said the way the altercation has been portrayed on all sides does not line up with the facts of the case.

"This is not the racial, political matter that it has become. it just needs to stick with the facts. The facts are they didn't commit a crime," he said. "The prosecution needs to quit playing with a political football here."