- THEO WELLING
- Patricia and Mark McCloskey now face weapons and tampering charges.
Mark and Patricia McCloskey have been indicted on gun charges and, in a surprise development, tampering with evidence.
The Central West End gunslingers are accused of illegally exhibiting weapons in June in response to protesters marching past their mansion. In July, the St. Louis circuit attorney issued felony charges of unlawful use of a weapon against the husband and wife.
An indictment on the gun charges was not guaranteed, but it also wasn't a surprise. But the indictment handed down today by the grand jury also included the evidence tampering charges against both McCloskeys.
The new charge is related to the handgun Patricia McCloskey pointed at protesters, KMOV reports
. That gun has been the subject of intrigue for months.
On June 28, protesters were headed to Mayor Lyda Krewson's house when they walked through an unlocked gate onto Portland Place, where the McCloskey's live in the first house off the private street. Video of the scene shows Mark McCloskey, carrying a black AR-15, immediately began shouting "Get the hell out of my neighborhood!" as the first protesters began walking past on the street and sidewalk.
Patricia McCloskey soon appeared at the front of the house, loosely holding a small handgun, finger on the trigger, as she clomped across the lawn. After a tense few minutes of the McCloskeys pointing guns at protesters and occasionally (apparently accidentally) each other, the crowd moved on to the front of Krewson's house a couple of blocks away. But photos and footage of the incident quickly went viral.
In July, police executed a warrant at the couple's home and seized Mark McCloskey's AR-15, but the handgun wielded by Patricia had been given to defense attorney Al Watkins.
Watkins, always the showman, dramatically handed it over to police in front of camera crews the next day. In documents leaked to KMOV
, the handgun was described as inoperable when police took custody of it, but it was allegedly reassembled at a crime lab and made to fire.
The McCloskeys' supporters have seized on that report as evidence that prosecutors are trying railroad the couple. The new charge accuses the couple of tampering with the gun before it was ever in the hands of police.
Since confronting protesters, the McCloskeys have become folk heroes to conservatives, who eagerly accepted the couple's story that they would have been murdered with their dog and their house would have been torched had they not pulled guns on the marchers.
Video shows no signs that the nonviolent protesters threatened the couple. Mark McCloskey's claim that he only armed himself after hearing protesters smash the pedestrian gate to enter the neighborhood was undercut by video that shows protesters simply opened the gate and then encountered the already armed attorney.
President Trump, who has tried to depict protesters as violent thugs, quickly seized on the incident, praising the McCloskeys. He was joined by other rightwing politicos, including Missouri Gov. Mike Parson and state Attorney General Eric Schmitt. The husband and wife were asked to speak at this year's Republican National Convention.
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