“I was a frightened person for my life, protecting my wife, my home, my hearth, my livelihood. I was victim of a crowd that came through the gate,” Mark McCloskey told CNN’s Chris Cuomo on Tuesday.
He said it was “ridiculous” to consider him the face of the opposition to the Black Lives Matter movement after the accident.
“I didn’t care what color they were. I didn’t care what their motivation was,” said McCloskey. “I was scared. I was attacked.”
McCloskey told CNN that the mayor’s house cannot be reached through his neighborhood and that hundreds of protesters have broken through a private gate. He said protesters threatened to kill him and his dogs and burn his home.
In two eyewitness videos, McCloskeys and protesters appear to be exchanging words, but what is being said is unclear.
McCloskey said that his actions and those of his wife were justified.
“My clients are completely behind and have approved the BLM message,” said McCloskey’s attorney Albert S. Watkins. “What I am unable to do is embrace the abuse of the use of that noble message that we all need to hear again and again and again as a license to rape, rob, plunder plunder on all our rights.”
Details of the disputed protests
McCloskey said he stopped seeing the meeting as a protest when he claimed that protesters had broken through a wrought iron gate.
Daniel Shular, a local reporter who took one of the CNN videos and said he saw the entire 10-minute long incident unfold, said that a door next to the Portland Place gate has been opened and protesters have used that to cut the neighborhood.
In a video streamed on Facebook, the door of the left gate is kept open by the first protesters who enter the private road. That video doesn’t show how the door was first opened.
However, a second Facebook Live video taken later shows the door of the right gate bent and broken on the ground.
McCloskey leaves the house 20 seconds later, and both videos show a heated, often profane back and forth between the couple and the demonstrators.
Once they crossed the gate, (the McCloskeys) warned the group that they were “on a private road and transgressed and told them to leave,” according to police. The couple told police that the group started screaming obscenity and threatened to harm them.
“When the victims observed multiple armed subjects, they armed themselves and contacted the police,” says the report.
Shular told CNN that he saw some armed people during the protest, but that “no one has drawn their weapons on people from the house”.
The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department told CNN that it is investigating the accident. City attorney Kimberly M. Gardner told CNN in a statement that she was alarmed by the events and that her office is investigating.
“We must protect the right to peaceful protest and any attempt to cool it down through intimidation or threats of deadly force will not be tolerated,” he said in his statement. “Make no mistake: we will not tolerate the use of force against those who exercise their first amendment rights and will use the full power of Missouri law to make people responsible.”
What led to the protests
They were stimulated by his reading of the names and addresses of people asking for police reform. The names and house addresses he read were presented as part of public commentary to the St. Louis County Council.
On Friday, the mayor apologized to Twitter, saying he didn’t want to hurt anyone.
“I would like to apologize for identifying the people who submitted the letters to me at City Hall today. This was during one of my Facebook updates as I answered routine questions,” Krewson said in a tweet. “I never intended to harm anyone or cause heartache. The update was removed and again, I apologize.”
CNN has contacted the mayor of St. Louis and the organizers of the protest over the accident, but has not yet received a response.
CNN’s Alisha Ebrahimji contributed to this report.