Missouri GOP Sen. Josh Hawley on Thursday claimed the St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office is improperly “targeting” the couple who wielded guns at protesters in their gated community last month, and requested the Justice Department open an investigation into the case.
In a letter to Attorney General Bill Barr, Hawley called for a federal civil rights probe into St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner’s investigation into the McCloskey family for using firearms to defend themselves and their property against protesters.
“This is an unacceptable abuse of power and threat to the Second Amendment and I urge you to consider a federal civil rights investigation into the St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office to determine whether this investigation and impending prosecution violates this family’s constitutional rights,” Hawley wrote to Barr on Thursday.
“There is no question under Missouri law that the McCloskeys had the right to own and use their firearms to protect themselves from threatened violence, and that any criminal prosecution for these actions is legally unsound,” Hawley continued. “The only possible motivation for the investigation, then, is a politically motivated attempt to punish this family for exercising their Second Amendment rights.”
Hawley’s attempted intervention comes after police served a search warrant at the McCloskey's home in the upscale Central West End neighborhood of St. Louis, in the same area where the city's Democratic mayor, Lyda Krewson, lives.
Nearly 500 protesters marching for racial equality and against police brutality were headed towards Krewson's residence during the June 28 incident, after she read off the names and addresses of individuals petitioning to defund the police. Mark and Patricia McCloskey came out of their house, brandished their guns, and demanded the protesters leave because they were trespassing. The couple later told Fox News' Sean Hannity that they were fearful that the protesters would "kill us" and "burn down the house.”
Police seized the rifle that Mark was holding in the now-viral video of the incident, while a handgun that Patricia was holding was turned over to St. Louis Police Saturday by the couple's attorney Albert Watkins.
The handgun had been in Watkins's possession as evidence that it was inoperable when she pointed it at protesters "in defense of themselves and their home at [the] time of the march," Watkins told Fox News.
Earlier this week, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson said he spoke with President Trump on the matter, and said that the president has promised “to do everything within his powers” to shield the McCloskey family from prosecution.
"He understands the situation in St. Louis and how out of control it is for a prosecutor to let violent criminals off and not do their job and try to attack law-abiding citizens," Parson said at a press conference.
"The conversation I had with the president, said that he would do everything he could within his powers to help with this situation," Parson added.
The McCloskey family attorney said he viewed Trump’s interest in the case as a positive, but said he anticipates state charges against the couple imminently.
Meanwhile, St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner's office released a statement calling it "unbelievable the Governor of the state of Missouri would seek advice from one of the most divisive leaders in our generation to overpower the discretion of a locally elected prosecutor.”
"Today, both the Governor and Donald Trump came after me for doing my job and investigating a case," the statement said on Tuesday. "While they continue to play politics with the handling of this matter, spreading misinformation and distorting the truth, I refuse to do so. As I always do, I am reviewing all the available facts and the law and will apply them equally, regardless of the people involved.”
Fox News’ Vandana Rambaran contributed to this report.