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Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt said on Monday that he is seeking to have felony charges against armed St. Louis homeowners dismissed, calling it “a political prosecution” brought by the city’s top prosecutor.
In an interview on “Fox News @ Night” with host Shannon Bream, Schmitt argued the right to self-defense is “deeply rooted” in the constitution and said the state has an expansive “castle doctrine,” which “gives broad authority to individuals to protect their lives, the lives of their family members, their homes, and their property.”
“At a time when there’s calls to defund the police, at a time with skyrocketing violent crime rates — including here in Missouri and in St. Louis — we’ve got a prosecutor now targeting individuals for exercising their fundamental rights under the second amendment,” Schmitt said.
St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner, the city’s top prosecutor, said Mark and Patricia McCloskey — both personal injury attorneys in their 60s — will be charged with felony unlawful use of a weapon following the June 28 incident.
“It is illegal to wave weapons in a threatening manner — that is unlawful in the city of St. Louis,” Gardner said in a statement.
The McCloskeys have said they were defending themselves, with tensions high in St. Louis amid nationwide police protests sparked by the police custody death of George Floyd. The McCloskeys said that the crowd of demonstrators broke an iron gate marked with “No Trespassing” and “Private Street” signs and that some violently threatened them.
Armed homeowners standing in front of their house along Portland Place confront protesters as they march to Mayor Lyda Krewson’s house on Sunday, June 28, 2020, in the Central West End in St. Louis. (Laurie Skrivan/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)
The husband and wife maintained they were protecting their home. St. Louis police seized the rifle from the home pursuant to a search warrant. No shots were fired but the incident quickly went viral and fueled the debate over rights property owners have when confronted with perceived threats.
Schmitt on Monday noted how the incident was on a private street and said you have a right to “defend your castle” under Missouri law.
“This is a politically motivated prosecution by a prosecutor whose not interesting in prosecuting violent crimes, he added.
Schmitt added that he is seeking to have the case dismissed “not just for the McCloskeys, but for every Missourian whose rights are threatened by a rogue prosecutor who seeks to punish people for exercising their fundamental right to self-defense.”
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson, a Republican, said last Friday he would consider pardoning the couple should they be criminally charged.
Fox News’ Bradford Betz and Louis Casiano contributed to this report