Officials in St. Louis have filed felony charges against a couple who was recorded waving their guns at a group of protesters marching through their private neighborhood. St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly Gardner announced that Mark and Patricia McCloskey were each charged with unlawful use of a weapon, a class E felony.
"It is illegal to wave weapons in a threatening manner at those participating in nonviolent protest, and while we are fortunate this situation did not escalate into deadly force, this type of conduct is unacceptable in St. Louis," Gardner said in a statement.
Gardner said her office was willing to allow the couple to enter into a diversion program to avoid a trial and record of conviction.
"I believe this would serve as a fair resolution to this matter," Gardner said. "We must protect the right to peacefully protest, and any attempt to chill it through intimidation will not be tolerated."
Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt blasted Gardner's office, calling the case against the McCloskey's a "political prosecution." He said the couple was within their rights to defend their property and has filed a brief asking for the charges to be dropped.
"As Missouri's Chief law enforcement officer, I won't stand by while Missouri law is being ignored," Schmitt said. "That's why I entered this case to seek its dismissal, to protect the rights of Missourians to defend their property under Missouri's Castle Doctrine."
Last week, Missouri Governor Mike Parson suggested that he would consider pardoning the couple if they were convicted of a crime.
Photo: Getty Images