ST. LOUIS — Lawyer Albert Watkins on Saturday turned over to police what he said was the handgun that city resident Patricia McCloskey had waved at protesters June 28. Police served a search warrant Friday at the Portland Place home of Mark and Patricia McCloskey and seized the rifle that Mark McCloskey had brandished that evening.
The couple made national headlines after they stood in their yard holding a rifle and a handgun and shouted at a crowd of protesters marching through the private street in the Central West End neighborhood on their way to St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson’s house.
Watkins said he took possession of the handgun “to maintain the integrity of the defense of Mr. and or Mrs. McCloskey in the event — what I believe to be the highly unlikely event — of any charges being brought.”
No charges have been filed against the McCloskeys.
St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly M. Gardner said after the incident that her office was investigating.
Watkins had been representing the couple, appearing with them on television and arranging interviews. But he said Saturday that although they remain his clients, he would not represent them in connection with “whatever may or may not occur on a criminal front,” regarding the Portland Place event last month.
“My ability to move forward on behalf of the McCloskeys is compromised by my potential role as a witness in this case,” Watkins said. “Because I have possession of … this weapon” and, he added, because he was the person to hand the weapon to detectives Saturday.
Defense lawyer Joel Schwartz said he is now representing the McCloskeys in the protest matter. “I will say that I believe charges are clearly unwarranted,” Schwartz said Saturday. “Based upon Missouri law and the Castle Doctrine, the McCloskeys were 100% within their rights. As well as the potential of protection of self and from bodily harm should that have arisen.”
Watkins stood outside his Clayton office building Saturday afternoon and held the handgun wrapped in a plastic bag. He said the gun was “inoperable” and had been used as an exhibit in several cases against the manufacturer — litigation that Mark McCloskey had handled at his firm.
Patricia McCloskey knew the gun was inoperable as she confronted protesters, Watkins said, but displayed the gun as an “intimidation factor which may be utilized within the context of any self-defense.”
“I’m not a gun expert,” Watkins said as he held up the bag with the gun. “This is the closest I’ve gotten to handling a gun and I, quite frankly, don’t feel comfortable doing it even though it is inoperable and unloaded.”
The McCloskeys have a long history of filing lawsuits.
“When you have a certain degree of property, when you have a certain degree of business concerns and you get into disputes, the lawful, civil way to handle those matters and controversy is to do exactly what they did: file a lawsuit,” Watkins said.
He said the number of lawsuits a person is involved with means nothing.
Editor’s note: Story has been updated to correct the first name of Patricia McCloskey and the adjust the description of the street where the couple live.