A husband and wife in St. Louis brandished an AR-15 and a handgun as a group of Black Lives Matter protesters walked past their home in a wealthy gated community over the weekend.
The incident sparked national and international interest, including an ongoing debate within the pro-gun community about armed self-defense.
Video of the altercation emerged on Twitter showing Mark McCloskey, 63, holding an AR-15 and his 61-year-old wife, Patricia, holding a small handgun. The McCloskey’s claim that the group trespassed on private property by entering their community, and while the bulk of the protesters were peaceful, they observed two individuals threatening violence.
“My clients, though, had to deal with comments that were from two individuals that were perpetrating these acts of violence and, not charging, but coming toward them and doing so in a fashion that was threatening, menacing, and in a fashion inconsistent with the Black Lives Matter message,” the McCloskey’s lawyer, Al Watkins, told Fox News.
Mark McCloskey, who along with his wife works as a lawyer, was more vivid in his descriptions.
“A mob of at least 100 smashed through the historic wrought iron gates of Portland Place, destroying them, rushed towards my home where my family was having dinner outside and put us in fear for our lives,” McCloskey told KMOV4.
“This is all private property. There are no public sidewalks or public streets,” he continued. “We were told that we would be killed, our home burned and our dog killed. We were all alone facing an angry mob.”
Protest leaders claim that they did not smash the gate, and a video on Twitter appears to show people walking through the gate while it was still intact. It is not clear when the gate was destroyed.
Rasheen Aldridge helped lead the protest, and he doesn’t believe their trespass on private property is relevant.
“Just like in many disobedient protests, even in the 60s, you break laws, make people feel uncomfortable. We’re not doing anything where we’re hurting anyone or putting anyone in danger,” he told KMOV4.
The incident sparked a minor controversy in the pro-gun community as well. Several “Ken and Karen” memes made the rounds on social media poking fun at the couple for their dress, appearance, and obvious unfamiliarity with safe firearm handling.
Other gun owners criticized the memes and argued that the couple should not be ridiculed for defending their property with firearms. YouTuber Mrgunsngear reported that he received harsh criticism and even death threats for a video he posted making fun Mark McCloskey.
Missourians enjoy a broad castle doctrine that allows residents to use deadly force on anyone unlawfully on their property, according to Anders Walker, a constitutional law professor at St. Louis University. It is unclear whether protesters trespassed on the McCloskey’s property, but they are not allowed to be in the gated community, Walker told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly M. Gardner issued a statement on Twitter voicing her “alarm” at reports stating that “peaceful protesters” were met by “guns and violent assault.” She vowed to “use the full power of Missouri law” to hold those accountable who threatened the protesters.
So far, no charges have been filed against the McCloskeys. Stay tuned. Looks like this case is just heating up!