A middle-aged white couple who were captured on video pointing guns at protesters in St. Louis last month were charged on Monday for waving their weapons at the crowd.
Mark and Patricia McCloskey face one count each of unlawful use of a weapon, a felony, for allegedly exhibiting weapons "readily capable of lethal use, in an angry or threatening manner," according to charging documents.
"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," Kimberly Gardner said in a statement.
Gardner said she was "open to recommending" that the McCloskeys, who are both personal injury attorneys, participate in a diversion program "to reduce unnecessary involvement with the courts."
"We must protect the right to peacefully protest, and any attempt to chill it through intimidation will not be tolerated," she said.
In video of the June 28 incident, Mark McCloskey is seen carrying an assault rifle while Patricia McCloskey holds up a handgun as the two stand outside their mansion.
The video shows the couple yelling at protesters, who were marching toward the home of Mayor Lyda Krewson, and pointing their guns at them. In photos, Patricia McCloskey's finger can be seen on the trigger.
In an interview with KSDK, Mark McCloskey said he and his wife felt "threatened by the protesters, describing the crowd as "huge and frightening."
"We were threatened with our lives, threatened with a house being burned down, my office building being burned down, even our dog's life being threatened," he said. "I really thought it was storming the Bastille, that we would be dead and the house would be burned and there was nothing we could do about it."
After being criticized by supporters of the McCloskeys for not sending state law enforcement officers to defend the couple, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson said last week that they "had every right" to wave their weapons at the protesters and that he'd likely pardon the husband and wife if they are charged.
"I think that's exactly what would happen," Parson said in a radio interview. "I don't think they're going to spend any time in jail."
Mark and Patricia McCloskey were charged with unlawful use of a weapon, a felony. An earlier version of this article misstated the charges.