The St. Louis husband and wife who were captured on video brandishing guns at protesters over the summer were indicted Tuesday on firearm and evidence tampering charges, their lawyer said.
The indictment comes nearly four months after Mark and Patricia McCloskey — who have been embraced by conservatives and appeared at the Republican National Convention — were filmed and photographed outside their affluent West Central End home pointing a semi-automatic rifle and a handgun at the demonstrators.
The couple faces two counts each for exhibiting a weapon and tampering with evidence, according to St. Louis NBC affiliate KSDK. Their lawyer, Joel Schwartz, told NBC News on Tuesday that they will deal with the charges accordingly, which he called “baseless.”
It wasn’t clear what evidence prosecutors presented to a grand jury to obtain the tampering charge. A message left with the office of St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly Gardner was not immediately returned.
Gardner charged the couple with felony unlawful use of a weapon in July. In a statement, she said it was illegal to “wave weapons in a threatening manner at those participating in a nonviolent protest.”
“While we are fortunate this situation did not escalate into deadly force, this type of conduct is unacceptable in St. Louis,” Gardner said.
The status of the unlawful use charge was not immediately clear.
The McCloskeys said they were “in fear of imminent harm” during the June 28 protest, according to a statement released on their behalf after the event.
Protesters and police reform advocates were demonstrating against St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson, who lives in the same neighborhood as the McCloskeys, after she released names and home addresses of “defund the police” activists.
Police have said the couple told officers that protesters yelled expletives and threatened them after breaking a gate that guarded their private street.
Daniel Shular, a freelance photojournalist who was at the demonstration has challenged this account, saying he didn’t see anyone break the gate or yell obscenities until Mark McCloskey appeared with a rifle.
After Gardner announced them in July, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson called the charges against the couple “outrageous,” while state Attorney General Eric Schmitt sought to have them dismissed because the couple was “defending their property and safety.”
In an interview with “Marc Cox Morning Show,” Parson that he’d consider a pardon for the couple if they were convicted of a crime from the confrontation.
A representative for the McCloskeys has previously insisted the couple is not opposed to protests for racial equality and were only fearful of a few white protesters in the crowd.
“The Black Lives Matters movement is here to stay, it is the right message, and it is about time,” said Albert Watkins, a lawyer for the McCloskeys, in June. “The McCloskeys want to make sure no one thinks less of BLM, its message and the means it is employing to get its message out because of the actions of a few white individuals who tarnished a peaceful protest.”
Tim Stelloh is a reporter for NBC News based in California.
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