Update: Armed Couple Deters Crowd from Home
UPDATE: Couple who waved guns at protesters say they were victims of 'terrorism'
UPDATE: St. Louis TV news crew threatened with AK-47 while covering this protest.
A St. Louis couple appears to have deterred a crowd from harming them or causing damage to their home by being armed and pointing their firearms at the crowd.
According to news stories a large crowd of 300 marched through private property on their way to Mayor Lyda Krewson’s house to call for her resignation.
During the protest, images and videos showed Mark McCloskey, 63, holding a rifle and his wife Patricia McCloskey, 61, pointing a handgun at the crowd of about 300 protesters around 7:30 p.m.
The McCloskeys said they were “in fear for our lives” and that’s why they pulled the guns out.
“It was like the storming of the Bastille, the gate came down and a large crowd of angry, aggressive people poured through,” Mark McCloskey said. “I was terrified that we’d be murdered within seconds. Our house would be burned down, our pets would be killed.”
The news coverage leads off with a reporter saying "the couple told me they felt threatened, but protesters tell me threats were never made and this was an otherwise peaceful protest."
Overall, this is a good case study for us to consider for our own education and training.
While there is a hard site perimeter with walls and gates, it appears the protesters had access to the neighborhood through a pedestrian gate. It's not clear if the gate was locked because some video shows it operational and simply opened by protesters but another photo shows the gate partially destroyed.
It's not clear if there is any kind of police or private security presence.
There appears to be a very low deterrence afforded by the neighborhood and protesters appear to have easy access with very little visual or physical hinderances.
Presumably, it is in a historically low-crime area with residents feeling very little need for security.
I'll also make a prediction -- the neighborhood will most definitely get more protection now since this incident and the fact that the mayor resides there. This could take the form of more police, but most likely a private security force (Update: the Channel 5 video posted below features the on-camera reporter mentioning seeing private security cars now in the neighborhood). If the neighborhood does not, then individual homeowners will. I'm seeing more and more high-net-worth individuals contracting for sophisticated residential security teams.
The story says "Mark said they called 911 and grabbed their guns as they heard the crowd approaching their private, gated community on Portland Place."
So would appear that there are no cameras on the main gates which can give an advance warning to residents of trouble outside the walls. They were outside and heard the disturbance. I'm going to make an assumption that the income level of these people probably means they have a fairly robust and sophisticated security system on their own house.
Still, good job on the couple for detecting the crowd, interpreting what kind of threat this size of a crowd can entail, and reacting.
It seems entirely reasonable in the context of the violence surrounding demonstrations for the past month that a crowd of 300 protesters trespassing on your property that you would feel it necessary to defend your family and your property.
I think we all should realize that this sustained level of violence is unprecedented in half a century. Every night we see citizens being beaten, cars attacked, businesses looted, buildings burned.
The fact that mobs descended on Beverly Hills chanting 'eat the rich' should not be taken lightly by the normally isolated upper class citizens in any city.
In this story, McCloskey said, "A mob of at least 100 smashed through the historic wrought iron gates of Portland Place, destroying them, rushed towards my home where my family was having dinner outside and put us in fear for our lives."
That would explain their attire and their footwear -- the couple is barefoot. Hardly the best outfits for defending your home in a riot. But, you've got what you've got at the time when it kicks off. Can I say we should all be more prepared for violence at any time? Of course, but I'm not going to criticize them for dressing casually in their own home.
Neither am I going to criticize their choice of weapons. I fully concur with his choice of an AR-15 for home defense especially for multiple criminals -- in this case, hundreds of them. Photos indicate that Mark had an additional magazine in his left front pocket. This might be a good time to remind us that sometimes you do need a 30-round magazine. I am not going to criticize her choice of her small-caliber handgun despite that it's not the most optimal choice for personal protection. Remember, the first rule of a gun fight is to have a gun. (According to the McCloskeys, there were men in the crowd threatening them). While some in the blogosphere have aimed criticism on the couple for their apparent inexperience with firearms, I'd like to suggest they are probably an example of the skill level of most civilians. And I'd like to remind us that under duress we will revert back to the level of our training. If you don't train or practice, your skill levels will be diminished even further during an emergency.
I'd like to propose she learn to shoot an AR-15 carbine. It's more effective than a handgun, easier to shoot, and will support a consistent system for her and her husband with common ammunition, common magazines, and common manual of arms for the both of them. The important part here is they have firearms, have access to their firearms, and deployed them decisively. We often teach the concept that the proper intent delivered now is better than the perfect technique delivered too late.
The couple called 911 for help. Instructionally, no police seem to have responded in time to help the McCloskeys who resolved the situation on their own. It's important to remember that the police may not be coming to help you. As we are seeing, police are either not available because the troops are overwhelmed or because political leaders are throttling back their department's responses.
You must educate and train yourself to be your own first responder.
Related: What You Should Consider for your First Gun Purchase
What About Brandishing Weapons?
Can this couple get in trouble for brandishing weapons? The news story indicates they could. The news story shows an interview with a Missouri defense attorney who correctly points out that the state law says it's illegal to display a gun in a threatening or angry manner.
Here's the Missouri state statute which covers exhibiting a firearm as an unlawful use of weapons:
*571.030.Unlawful use of weapons — exceptions — penalties. —1. A person commits the offense of unlawful use of weapons, except as otherwise provided by sections571.101 to 571.121, if he or she knowingly:
(4) Exhibits, in the presence of one or more persons, any weapon readily capable of lethal use in an angry or threatening manner;
However, either the attorney leaves out -- or KMOV4 edits out -- that there are subsections of the law which excuse or except this behavior. One of them is below:
5. Subdivisions (3), (4), (5), (6), (7), (8), (9), and (10) of subsection 1 of this section shall not apply to persons who are engaged in a lawful act of defense pursuant to section563.031. (My emphasis added).
The engagement of a lawful act of self-defense is usually an exception to brandishing or threatening laws. It's part of the exigent circumstances that makes a normally unlawful action excusable in emergency situations.
Update: This new interview below features an attorney discussing Missouri law and how the protesters were actually trespassing and the McCloskeys were in the right.
I'm not an attorney and chances are you are not either, so educate yourself on your state statutes and identify an attorney now that you would call after an emergency such as this.
Update: Colion Noir (an attorney himself) shares his views regarding the legalities surrounding this situation in the video below.
Ironically, the McCloskeys are attorneys and seem to be professionally and politically in tune with the cause most of the protesters profess to follow. As we've seen -- and will see again -- being supportive of the mob is no protection from the mob. In this case, the McCloskeys seem to have articulated their fear of the consequences of their inaction well. They are also smart enough to have engaged an attorney early as they could be facing criminal and/or civil charges in the future. It also sounds like they are being targeted to be cancelled through disbarment from practicing law and politically through complaints to the Board of Election Commissioners.
The Three Battles
With altercations that involve force or threaten the use of force, we must be prepared for three distinct aspects:
The Emotional Fight we all experience in either denying or accepting the reality of the situation; our need to prepare; our need to learn and train.
The Physical Fight of the actual altercation. The use of tactics to avoid, de-escalate, and gain/maintain a position of safety.
The Aftermath Fight of injuries, medical bills, media intrusion and coverage, insurance claims, and lawsuits. This can also include recovering from the emotional distress caused by the incident itself and the inevitable second guessing of your actions. In this case, you can see there are forces trying to ruin the couple professionally and politically.
Related: Watch McCloskey Defend Against Accusations from Chris Cuomo at CNN
If you are not convinced of the need for increased security now, what is it going to take? We must prepare emotionally and physically in both soft and hard skills to protect ourselves and our loved ones.
The dilemma becomes that of the old proverb about the best time to plant a tree -- 20 years ago or now. If you have not been preparing and training up to this point please begin in earnest now.
And train like your life depends on it.