Mark McCloskey, the 63-year-old homeowner seen in the now-viral video holding a black rifle, said in a recent interview he, his wife and his home were threatened by a fringe group that accompanied protesters marching to the mayor’s nearby home.
“There were people wearing body armor. One person pulled out a loaded pistol magazine, he clipped them together and said, ‘You’re next,’” McCloskey told the “Today” show in a segment that aired Tuesday morning. “We were threatened with our lives, threatened with the house [being] burned down.”
Video shows McCloskey holding the black, long gun, and yelling, ‘Private property. Get out now.’”
The footage continues to show McCloskey’s wife, Patricia, at times pointing a handgun at protesters.
The crowd grew “enraged” after he told them to leave his property, said McCloskey. But Daniel Shular, a photojournalist who said he witnessed the encounter, described in an interview how the situation “went to another level” when McCloskey grabbed the gun.
Circuit Attorney Kimberly Gardner issued a statement late Monday characterizing what happened differently, saying her office was working with police to investigate the confrontation.
“I am alarmed at the events that occurred over the weekend, where peaceful protesters were met by guns and a violent assault,” Gardner said. “We must protect the right to peacefully protest, and any attempt to chill it through intimidation or threat of deadly force will not be tolerated.”
No charges were filed against the couple as of Tuesday morning.
Armed homeowners standing in front of their house along Portland Place confront protesters on June 28, in the Central West End in St. Louis. (Laurie Skrivan/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)
The McCloskeys called the St. Louis Police Department shortly before 7:30 p.m. Sunday, according to an incident summary provided to Fox News by the department. They told arriving officers that they heard a “commotion,” then “observed a large group of subjects forcefully break an iron gate marked with ‘No Trespassing’ and ‘Private Street’ signs.”
But the video shows the protesters walking through the gate, which did not appear to be damaged at the time.
“Once through the gate, the victims advised the group that they were on a private street and trespassing, and told them to leave,” the police summary further states. “The group began yelling obscenities and threats of harm to both victims. When the victims observed multiple subjects who were armed, they then armed themselves and contacted police.”
Based on the couple’s account, police called the incident a case of trespassing and assault by intimidation, according to the incident summary. No other police reports were filed that night, a department spokesperson told Fox News.
Al Watkins, an attorney for the McCloskeys, said the protest was largely peaceful and the pair did not bring their guns outside the home until two men in particular, both of whom were white, started menacing them.
The couple, he said, was hesitant to come forward with the full story out of fear that they would “disparage the importance of Black Lives Matter.”
“At the time, their fear was, these people, two in particular, that were marching along with the Black Lives Matter protest participants – all peaceful. They were acting in a fashion inconsistent with the message being given,” Watkins said. “My clients were not arming themselves against peaceful protesters, they were arming themselves about people with a really bad motive, a motive that runs afoul of the fundamental tenets of our country.”
Watkins said the McCloskeys have each practiced law for more than 30 years and “their practices have included, on an ongoing basis, representing individuals in pursuit of protection of their civil rights.”
“One hundred percent of my client’s clients in those cases have been people of color,” Watkins said.
At the time of the tense confrontation, the protesters were reportedly marching toward Mayor Lyda Krewson’s home to demand her resignation.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.