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World News

St. Louis couple indicted for brandishing guns at protesters

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(Reuters) - A St. Louis, Missouri grand jury on Tuesday indicted a couple with unlawful use of a weapon and tampering with evidence, more than three months after they brandished guns at protesters marching outside their home, their attorney said.

Personal injury lawyers Mark McCloskey, 63, and his wife Patricia McCloskey, 61, have said they were frightened for their lives on June 28 when demonstrators protesting against police violence marched by their mansion.

The protests were part of a nationwide wave of demonstrations over police violence against Black people prompted by the killing in May of George Floyd, a Black man, by a white Minneapolis police officer.

Republican President Donald Trump in July said charging the couple was an abuse of power and the McCloskeys addressed the Republican National Convention in August.

“What you’re witnessing here in this case is just an opportunity for the government, the leftist, Democrat government of the city of St. Louis to persecute us for exercising our Second Amendment rights,” said Mark McCloskey in front of the courthouse in St. Louis on Tuesday after a hearing in the case was postponed.

Videos show the McCloskeys, who are white, shouting at Black and white protesters, who are apparently unarmed, to keep off their property. Patricia McCloskey pointed a handgun at the crowd while her husband held a semi-automatic weapon.

Kimberly Gardner, the city’s chief prosecutor, filed felony unlawful use of a weapon charges against the couple in July before bringing the case to a grand jury, which indicted the couple on unlawful use of a weapon and tampering with evidence felonies, their attorney said.

“It is illegal to wave weapons in a threatening manner at those participating in nonviolent protest, and while we are fortunate this situation did not escalate into deadly force, this type of conduct is unacceptable in St. Louis,” Gardner said in a statement when she filed charges.

Reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Chicago; Editing by Chris Reese, Bill Tarrant and David Gregorio

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