ST. LOUIS — Mark and Patricia McCloskey, the Central West End couple facing criminal charges for waving guns at racial injustice protesters last summer have told a judge they are concerned about Circuit Attorney Kimberly Gardner’s handling of their case and asked that it be sent back to the grand jury.
“Due to the bias of Kim Gardner’s office, we believe the grand jury process was tainted and should be reviewed and revisited,” Joel Schwartz, the attorney for the McCloskeys, said in an email to The Associated Press on Wednesday.
A hearing on the motion to remand is scheduled for April 30. A message left with Gardner’s office wasn’t immediately returned.
Demonstrators were marching to the home of then-Mayor Lyda Krewson on June 28, amid nationwide protests that followed George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis. They ventured onto Portland Place, the private street that includes the McCloskey mansion. The couple said protesters broke down an iron gate and ignored a “No Trespassing” sign. They said they felt threatened.
Protest leaders denied damaging the gate and said the march was peaceful.
Mark McCloskey emerged from his home armed with an AR-15 rifle and Patricia McCloskey came out with a semiautomatic handgun. Cellphone video captured the tense confrontation between the McCloskeys and the protesters.
Gardner said the display of guns risked bloodshed. A police probable cause statement said protesters feared “being injured due to Patricia McCloskey’s finger being on the trigger, coupled with her excited demeanor.”
The McCloskeys, who are both attorneys in their early 60s, were indicted by a St. Louis grand jury in October on charges of unlawful use of a weapon and tampering with evidence. Gardner originally filed the weapons charge in July. The grand jury added the evidence tampering charge. The indictment states that a semiautomatic pistol was altered in a way that “obstructed the prosecution of Patricia McCloskey” on the weapons charge.
In December, a judge dismissed Gardner’s office from prosecuting the case, ruling she created an appearance of impropriety by mentioning the McCloskey case in fundraising emails before the August Democratic primary. She went on to win reelection.
Former U.S. Attorney Richard Callahan was appointed special prosecutor. Gardner asked the Missouri Supreme Court to restore her authority to prosecute the case, but earlier this month, it declined to do so.
The McCloskeys emerged as celebrities in conservative circles after the charges were filed. They spoke on video during last summer’s Republican National Convention and garnered support from then-President Donald Trump and other leading Republicans. Missouri Gov. Mike Parson has vowed to issue pardons if they are convicted.
One of Gardner’s campaign emails said she was under “national scrutiny from our divisive President, the Republican establishment of Missouri, and the right-wing media, including Fox News.”
“Kim needs your help to fight back!” it read.
Mark McCloskey may be considering his own entry into politics. Politico reported Tuesday that McCloskey is considering running for the Senate in 2022. He spoke Saturday at the Jackson County Republican Party’s Reagan-Lincoln Day Dinner in Kansas City, the Kansas City Star reported. Incumbent Republican Sen. Roy Blunt announced in March he would not seek reelection.