Mark and Patricia McCloskey, the St. Louis couple who made headlines protecting their home from rioters, were charged Monday with felonies in the incident.
The couple held a rifle and handgun last month outside their house when protesters broke down a private gate and headed past their residence. Mr. McCloskey said they feared for their property and lives.
St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner has charged the couple with brandishing weapons, accusing the couple of waving the guns at protesters in a threatening way.
“It is illegal to wave weapons in a threatening manner at those participating in a nonviolent protest, and while we are fortunate this situation did not escalate into deadly force, this type of conduct is unacceptable in St. Louis,” Ms. Gardner stated. “The decision to issue charges was made after a thorough investigation with the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department.”
Unlawful use of a firearm is a felony and they could face a $10,000 fine and up to four years in prison. However Ms. Gardner is recommending a diversion program such as community service rather than jail time if the McCloskeys are convicted.
An attorney for the couple, Joel Schwartz, in a statement to reporters called the decision to charge at all “disheartening as I unequivocally believe no crime was committed.”
Supporters of the McCloskeys said they were legally defending their home and that the marchers both made threats against them and already were trespassing on private property by having broken into a gated community.
Photos of the couple guarding their home went viral online and across major news outlets last month.
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson, a Republican, has said he would pardon the couple if they were charged.
In an interview last week with St. Louis talk-radio station KFTK 97.1-FM, the governor said the couple “did what they legally should do.”
“A mob does not have the right to charge your property. They had every right to protect themselves,” said Mr. Parson, who, when he was in the Legislature, co-authored Missouri’s “castle doctrine” law that lets deadly force be used to defend a home from intruders.
Ms. Gardner declined to discuss why she decided the castle doctrine didn’t apply.
Several other Republican leaders have condemned Ms. Gardner’s investigation, including President Trump and Sen. Josh Hawley.
• This article was based in part on wire service reports.