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Nation & World

The Couple Who Waved Guns At BLM Protesters Plead Guilty To Misdemeanors

Patricia McCloskey and her husband Mark McCloskey pleaded guilty to misdemeanor crimes on Thursday. They also agreed to forfeit both weapons they used when they confronted protesters in front of their home in June of last year.
Patricia McCloskey and her husband Mark McCloskey pleaded guilty to misdemeanor crimes on Thursday. They also agreed to forfeit both weapons they used when they confronted protesters in front of their home in June of last year.

File under sorry not sorry.

The wealthy husband-and-wife team who were slapped with criminal charges for waving guns at Black Lives Matter protesters in St. Louis, Mo., last year, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges in court on Thursday and agreed to give up the guns seized during the investigation.

Patricia McCloskey, who menaced the marching crowd with her finger on the trigger of a handgun, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor harassment and was ordered to pay a fine of $2,000. Her husband, Mark McCloskey, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor fourth-degree assault for threatening the passersby with an AR-15 rifle. He was fined $750.

"Both of them understand that what they did is a violation of Missouri law," the couple's attorney, Joel Schwarz told NPR. "I think it was equitable and justice was served."

"But," he added, "if faced with a similar or same situation it's something [Mark McCloskey] would do again."

Patricia and Mark McCloskey threatened a group of nonviolent Black Lives Matter protesters armed with a semi-automatic handgun and an AR-15 nearly a year ago.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch / TNS via Getty Images
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Patricia and Mark McCloskey threatened a group of nonviolent Black Lives Matter protesters armed with a semi-automatic handgun and an AR-15 nearly a year ago.

The confrontation catapulted the McCloskeys onto the national stage

The initial charges stem from a confrontation between the McCloskeys, both personal injury attorneys with a history of litigation against their neighbors, and a group of mostly Black protesters on June 28. The demonstrators entered the wealthy enclave to the gated community en route to the nearby home of former St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson.

When the McCloskeys confronted them, it was recorded in cell phone video, thrusting the polarizing couple into national headlines. It's made them darlings of the GOP and gun rights groups, and also the object of national outrage. Images of the scene have stoked heated debate over the rights of protesters and homeowners.

Eventually, the charges against the McCloskeys were reduced from unlawful use of a weapon — a class E felony — and evidence tampering, to the lesser misdemeanors. Meanwhile, officials dropped all charges against a handful of protesters.

Throughout the criminal proceedings the two insisted they believed the protesters would have burned down their mansion if the two hadn't "stood their ground."

Mark McCloskey remains defiant

Following the hearing on Thursday, Mark McCloskey called Fox News to say he was pleased with the final outcome.

"It's kind of humorous for me at any rate, the charge they finally settled on for me, because it's exactly what I did do," McCloskey said.

"That's the whole point of the Second Amendment. We stood out there with guns, and that placed them in imminent fear of physical injury, and they back off."

The couple will keep their law licenses and there's nothing stopping them from buying more guns in the future. But their plans to auction off or donate the now-infamous AR-15 and semi-automatic handgun were quickly shut down by Judge David Mason.

"They had the idea to try to raise money themselves or donate the weapons to the Missouri Historical Society once they're rendered inert," Schwarz explained, adding the McCloskeys believe there would have been "considerable interest in the guns."

"Who knows how this incident will be portrayed in the coming days, weeks, months and years? I do believe it would be significant."

He said the couple are glad the legal ordeal is over, giving Mark McCloskey more time to focus on his bid for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by the retiring Sen. Roy Blunt.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.