Lawyers for St. Louis who took weapons from protesters marching past his home are under investigation for possible criminal charges, the city's chief prosecutor revealed.
Mark and Patricia McCloskey, who went viral after brandishing an AR-15 style rifle and a silver-colored pistol, respectively, were the only ones to file a police report on Sunday's confrontation, insisting that they were "victims" of the Menacing intruders who entered. a gated community, said American St. Louis.
But the spouses' lawyers are being investigated by police and prosecutors for possible threats against the crowd, authorities announced Monday.
"I am alarmed by the events that occurred over the weekend, where peaceful protesters came across firearms." St. Louis District Attorney Kimberly Gardner said, also condemning a separate "violent assault" in the city.
"We must protect the right to protest peacefully, and any attempt to cool it down by intimidation or the threat of lethal force will not be tolerated," he insisted, saying that his office "is currently working with the public and the police to investigate these events."
"Make no mistake: We will not tolerate the use of force against those who exercise their First Amendment rights, and we will use the full power of Missouri law to hold people accountable," Gardner warned.
Mark McCloskey has insisted in an interview that they only took up arms after being "threatened with our lives", comparing it to "assaulting the Bastille".
In their police report, the couple also claimed that they only grabbed the weapons after they "observed multiple armed subjects," the St. Louis American said.
Missouri law states that a citizen is committing illegal use of a weapon if he "exhibits, in the presence of one or more people, any weapon readily capable of lethal use in an angry or threatening manner," the newspaper noted. It is likely to be a Class D felony with up to 4 years in prison and a fine not to exceed $ 5,000.
However, a so-called "Castle Doctrine" allows people to use deadly force to attack an intruder on their property, the newspaper noted.
The couple's attorney, Albert S. Watkins, told the newspaper that the couple "legally acted on their property."
"His actions were based solely on fear and apprehension, the genesis of which was unrelated to race. In fact, the agitators responsible for the concern were targets, ”Watkins emphasized in a statement.
"The peaceful protesters were not the subject of contempt or scorn by the McCloskeys," Watkins said. "On the contrary, they expected and supported the message of the protesters."
The scandal also prompted a Democrat to run for a seat in the state Senate to reject a McCloskeys donation, rather than hand it over to the Moms Demand Action gun safety campaign group, the newspaper said.
Protesters were on their way to the home of St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson to demand her resignation after she disclosed the names and addresses of residents who joined the protests against the police officers.
The couple brandished weapons as the group marched in front of Portland Place, a private street in a historic section of the city that is lined with million-dollar houses and other mansions.
McCloskey's "Midwest Palazzo" home appeared in St. Louis magazine in August 2018 after completing a major renovation.
In the piece, they showed the golden ceiling of the dome and the double curved marble staircase that led to the second and third floor landings.