St. Louis, MO – A grand jury indicted a St. Louis couple on gun and evidence tampering charges on Tuesday for defending their historic home from angry protesters in June.
Mark and Patricia McCloskey were featured holding a pistol and a semi-automatic rifle in now-iconic viral videos after a mob broke down the gate into their private neighborhood and threatened their lives.
The McCloskeys appeared in court on Tuesday but the judge continued the case until next Wednesday because the grand jury hadn’t reached a decision yet, FOX News reported.
That appearance date is expected to change with the announcement of the charges.
Mark McCloskey told FOX News on Tuesday night that he and his wife had found out about the indictment from their daughter who saw it on the news after the charges were leaked.
A clerk for the St. Louis Circuit Court confirmed to The Washington Post that the grand jury had filed charges against 61-year-old Mark McCloskey and 63-year-old Patricia McCloskey for exhibiting a weapon and tampering with evidence.
The details of the charges aren’t known and St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner’s office hasn’t responded to requests for more information.
Joel Schwartz, one of the McCloskeys’ defense attorneys, hadn’t seen the indictment but said he thought the evidence-tampering count had to do with a the prop gun Patricia McCloskey waved at protesters, The Washington Post reported.
“The gun didn’t function when Mrs. McCloskey had it,” Schwartz said. “The only way to support charges against McCloskey is to say that [she and her husband] altered the firearm before it went to the police.”
The incident occurred on June 28 when rioters who were trying to get to the St. Louis mayor’s private residence broke down the locked gate into the community where the McCloskeys resided and began marching through the private streets.
The McCloskeys, who are both attorneys, grabbed an unloaded semi-automatic rifle and an inoperable prop gun from a court case and faced off with the protesters in front of their $1.5 million home to defend their property.
St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner subsequently charged the McCloskeys with one felony count each of unlawful use of a weapon, after the couple stood outside their own home and displayed guns to defend their property.
Patricia and Mark McCloskey had told investigators beforehand that the weapon had been rendered inoperable so it could be used as a prop inside a courtroom for a lawsuit against a gun manufacturer.
However, in order to charge Patricia McCloskey under Missouri law, the gun had to be “readily” capable of lethal use, KSDK reported.
St. Louis Assistant Circuit Attorney Chris Hinckley ordered the crime lab to field strip the pistol.
Documents showed the techs found the gun been assembled wrong and the firing pin spring was put in backward, in front of the firing pin, rendering the weapon inoperable, according to KSDK.
The documents also showed that firearms experts disassembled the weapon and reassembled it properly, then test-fired it to confirm it worked.
Staff in the crime lab photographed the weapon’s disassembly and reassembly, according to KSDK.
But there no was no reference to the fact the gun didn’t work in the charging documents against Patricia McCloskey.
Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt said he would move to have the charges against the couple dismissed shortly after Gardner announced them.
More than two months after the incident, St. Louis Metropolitan Police completed their investigation into what happened at the McCloskeys home after protesters broke down the neighborhood gates and issued citations to nine people, NPR reported.
But it was up to the prosecutor whether to actually charge the protesters for trespassing, and Gardner’s office declined, FOX News reported.
St. Louis Deputy City Counselor Michael Garvin said on Sept. 29 that prosecutors had thoroughly investigated and reviewed videos, property documents, and interviewed numerous witnesses and decided not to move forward with charges against the protesters.