St. Louis couple who brandished guns at protesters plead guilty

FILE PHOTO: St. Louis couple brandish firearms at racial justice protesters in June 2020
·2 min read

By Brendan O'Brien

(Reuters) - A St. Louis, Missouri, couple who drew international attention for brandishing guns at racial justice protesters last year pleaded guilty on Thursday to misdemeanor charges stemming from the incident.

A St. Louis grand jury indicted personal injury lawyers Mark McCloskey, 64, and his wife Patricia McCloskey, 62, on felony unlawful use of a weapon and tampering charges in October, four months after the incident.

On Thursday, Mark McCloskey pleaded guilty to one count of misdemeanor fourth-degree assault. His wife pleaded guilty to second-degree harassment, also a misdemeanor, online court records showed.

Mark McCloskey was ordered to pay a $750 fine while Patricia McCloskey was ordered to pay $2,000. They were also ordered to turn over the weapons used in the incident.

Videos show the McCloskeys, who are white, shouting at Black and white protesters, who were apparently unarmed, to keep off their property on June 28. Patricia McCloskey pointed a handgun at the crowd while her husband held a semi-automatic weapon.

They have said they were frightened for their lives.

The protests were part of a nationwide wave of demonstrations over police violence against Black people following the May 2020 killing of George Floyd, a Black man, by a white Minneapolis police officer.

In July, then president Donald Trump, a Republican, said charging the couple was an abuse of power. The McCloskeys spoke, from their home, at the Republican National Convention in August. Mark McCloskey announced last month he is running for a U.S. Senate seat in Missouri as a Republican.

Special Prosecutor Richard Callahan said in a statement to local media on Thursday that he approved the plea because of the couple's age, lack of a criminal record and the fact that no one was hurt and no shots were fired.

"The prosecutor dropped every charge except for alleging that I purposely placed other people in imminent risk of physical injury, right, and I sure as heck did," Mark McCloskey said after the court hearing. "That's what the guns were there for and I'd do it again any time the mob approaches me."

(Reporting by Brendan O'Brien in Chicago; Editing by Matthew Lewis)

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