Mark and Patricia McCloskey, the white St. Louis couple who were seen waving guns at Black Lives Matter protesters outside their home, pleaded guilty Thursday to misdemeanor charges.
The couple, who are attorneys and have used last year's viral moment to launch themselves into the national political spotlight, were initially facing felony charges. On May 17, however, a judge appointed a special prosecutor to the case. Then, on Thursday, the couple pleaded to the lesser charges as part of a plea agreement, Mark McCloskey confirmed in a statement to BuzzFeed News.
Under the agreement, Mark McCloskey pleaded guilty to assault in the fourth degree and Patricia McCloskey pleaded guilty to harassment in the second degree, according to a statement handed to reporters by the special prosecutor in the case, Richard Callahan.
The couple must pay fines of $750 and $2,000 and hand over their weapons to state officials so they can be destroyed.
"This particular resolution of these two cases represents my best judgement of an appropriate and fair disposition for the parties involved as well as the public good," Callahan said in the statement.
The special prosecutor was assigned after the local circuit attorney, who originally charged the couple, referenced the case in her campaign materials.
As part of Callahan's decision to offer the lesser charges, the special prosecutor considered the couple's ages, their lack of criminal record, the fact that they called police before walking out armed to confront the crowd, and the fact no one was hurt and no shots were fired.
Since the June 28, 2020, incident, the McCloskeys have spoken out via a variety of conservative news outlets and were featured speakers at the 2020 Republican National Convention. Mark McCloskey has launched a campaign to represent Missouri in the US Senate.
The couple have claimed in numerous interviews they felt threatened by the peaceful demonstrators who were walking in front of their home.
Mark McCloskey's Senate campaign has been mostly centered on the incident, using the slogan "I will never back down." On his campaign website, the attorney also claims that he "stood up to the mob."
In his statement, which was distributed by his Senate campaign, McCloskey characterized Thursday's criminal conviction as a victory and also mischaracterized the circumstances around the case.
"One year ago, an angry mob crashed through my gate, and threatened my wife, my family, and my home," the statement read, in direct contradiction to the viral photographs of the incident as well as the special prosecutor's description of it.
The protesters, Callahan pointed out, were a peaceful group that included women and children and had "made a wrong turn on their way to protest in front of the mayor's house."
"There was no evidence that any of them had a weapon and no one I interviewed realized they had ventured into a private enclave," the prosecutor said, noting the protesters followed the directions of a security guard.
McCloskey also acknowledged that he and his wife brandished the guns to "put other people in imminent fear of physical harm."
"That's exactly what I did, that's what the guns were for," the statement read. "And any time the mob comes and threatens me, I'll do the same thing again to protect my family."
Officials have said McCloskey and his family were not threatened, although the statement noted, "there was back and forth conversation that resulted from the McCloskey's display of guns."
Callahan also said he did not take into account reports that Missouri Gov. Mike Parson has considered pardoning the couple as part of his decision to offer lesser charges in the plea agreement.
Joel Schwartz, the attorney representing the couple in court, told BuzzFeed News they are ready to move on.
"They are very happy with the outcome of the case and they're ready to move past this and move on with their lives," Schwartz said. "He will pay his $750 fine and move on."