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Grand jury indicts gun-waving St. Louis couple on gun, tampering charges
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Grand jury indicts gun-waving St. Louis couple on gun, tampering charges

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Mark McCloskey and his attorney Joel Schwartz speak to the press outside the Carnahan Courthouse after a court appearance on Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020. The hearing has been continued for one week. Video by Colter Peterson, cpeterson@post-dispatch.com

ST. LOUIS — A St. Louis grand jury on Tuesday issued indictments against Mark and Patricia McCloskey, charged in July with brandishing weapons at protesters outside the couple’s Portland Place mansion.

The couple was indicted on felony charges of unlawful use of a weapon and evidence tampering. The indictments were filed under seal Tuesday. St. Louis Circuit Clerk Thomas Kloeppinger said a judge ordered the indictments suppressed but Kloeppinger didn’t know the reason.

The grand jury added a count of evidence tampering after the Circuit Attorney’s Office in July charged the McCloskeys each with one count of unlawful use of a weapon — exhibiting.

A spokeswoman for Circuit Attorney Kimberly M. Gardner could not be reached Tuesday.

The McCloskeys’ lawyer Joel Schwartz said he didn’t know specifics about the charges but said he’s not surprised a grand jury indicted his clients.

“I’ll certainly be interested in what was presented to the grand jury,” said Schwartz, who plans to request a transcript or recording of the proceedings, if such records were made.

Since their encounter with protesters this summer, the couple has gained national notoriety through appearances on Fox News and CNN, and by speaking at the Republican National Convention in August.

Earlier Tuesday, a St. Louis judge postponed the McCloskeys’ morning court appearance until next Wednesday.

The charges filed in July say that on June 28, Mark McCloskey, 63, pointed an AR-15 rifle at protesters and Patricia McCloskey, 61, wielded a semiautomatic handgun, placing protesters in fear of injury.

Outside the Carnahan Courthouse on Tuesday, Mark McCloskey criticized the City Counselor’s Office for opting against prosecuting protesters for trespassing in Portland Place, a private, gated street. Nine protesters were initially served police summonses, but City Counselor Michael Garvin said on Sept. 29 that trespassing charges would not be pursued.

“The government chooses to persecute us for doing no more than exercising our right to defend ourselves, our home, our property and our family and now we’re getting drug here time after time after time and for what?” Mark McCloskey said. “We didn’t fire a shot. People were violently protesting in front of our house and screaming death threats and threats of rape and threats of arson. Nobody gets charged but we get charged.”

The McCloskeys have repeatedly called protesters outside their Central West End home “violent,” though there has been no evidence of violence by protesters that day.

A gate leading to Portland Place was damaged at some point, though protesters have denied breaking it. Video from the scene showed protesters walking through an apparently undamaged gate.

Mark McCloskey then pivoted Tuesday to national politics in an attempt to connect Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden to the couple’s prosecution.

Gov. Mike Parson has said he’ll pardon the couple if they are convicted; Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt has filed a motion to dismiss the case.

Updated at 7 p.m. Tuesday with more information.

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