(Reuters) – Police in St. Louis, Missouri, searched the mansion of a couple who brandished guns at demonstrators walking past their home last month in widely viewed videos, the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department said.
Police arrived on Friday evening with a search warrant and seized a .223 caliber semi-automatic rifle, police said, apparently the same weapon used by Mark McCloskey in the June 28 incident.
McCloskey, 63, and his wife, Patricia McCloskey, 61, are both personal injury attorneys and said they feared for their lives when protesters protesting police violence marched past their mansion on their way to the home of the mayoress of Saint-Louis, Lyda. Krewson.
The protests were part of a nationwide wave of marches and protests against police violence against blacks sparked by the May murder of George floyd, a black man, by a white Minneapolis policeman who knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.
Videos show the McCloskeys, who are white, shouting at black and white protesters, who are apparently unarmed, to stay away from their property for several minutes. Some in the crowd are recording the scene on their cellphones or shouting that the protesters have no interest in harming the couple. Patricia McCloskey pointed a handgun at the crowd.
The McCloskeys and a lawyer representing them did not respond to requests for comment.
Shortly after the incident, Kimberly Gardner, the city’s chief prosecutor, said she was alarmed by the videos and her office was investigating a possible violation of people’s right to protest peacefully, saying in a statement that “intimidation or the threat of lethal force will not be tolerated.
The couple said it was within their rights to defend their property.
The McCloskeys have repeatedly filed or threatened to do so in order to defend their property rights, according to an investigation released by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Saturday.
In 2013, Mark McCloskey destroyed beehives just outside the wall of his mansion that were placed there by a nearby synagogue to provide honey for Rosh Hashanah celebrations, the newspaper reported. McCloskey left a note saying he would sue the congregation if they didn’t remove all traces of the hives, he said.
Reporting by Jonathan Allen in New York; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Alistair Bell