ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- To some people, the McCloskeys have become a household name, seen around the world in viral images, pointing guns at protesters.
But for the first time, News 4 is getting a rare look at what went on behind closed doors in the days leading up to charges being filed against them. Through an anonymous source, News 4 received a series of emails, text messages and a voicemail exchanged in the days and weeks leading up to Mark and Patricia McCloskey being charged for what happened at their home in the Central West End.
In a voicemail to St. Louis Police Sgt. Detective Curtis Burgdorf, Assistant Circuit Attorney and Chief Warrant Officer Chris Hinckley, makes it clear, he's frustrated.
"Curtis, you need to call me back, I wrote a long email to you trying to ask a bunch of questions, about what you said, some of it was [expletive]. 'Now we need to straighten this out, because I am about done with this crap,” Hinckley said.
Burgdorf is the lead investigator on what happened at 1 Portland Place on June 28. Since then, prosecutors charged the McCloskeys with exhibiting weapons and nine people have been issued citations for trespassing on private property.
ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- Nine demonstrators received trespassing citations for the night of J…
Emails were exchanged between Burgdorf and Hinckley the very day after the incident.
By July, Hinckley was requesting additional follow-up work, including a search warrant to seize the McCloskey’s guns. On July 9, he wrote, in an email, "They are not going to want you guys rooting around their beautiful mansion. So, I suspect they'll give them up."
Mark McCloskey’s rifle was taken by police from the home. The handgun Patricia McCloskey had was in attorney Al Watkins' possession and turned over, in front of News 4's cameras.
Hinckley wrote to Burgdorf: "Why the [expletive] does Watkins have the handgun?" and writing about Watkins "that guy is a slime ball, by many accounts."
Watkins responded to this by saying, "If I am doing my job I make some people say stupid things. If I am doing my job really well I make public officials paid with taxpayer dollars say really stupid things."
Many of the exchanges, though, were cordial.
At one time, Hinckley wrote "Curtis-be careful in general. Our phones and Twitter started lighting up last night. Several credible threats on Kim," referencing Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner and saying he was passing information about the threats to the FBI.
The Central West End couple who made headlines across the world when they grabbed their guns to confront protesters made their first court appearance Monday.
But Hinckley got heated over the probable cause statement, outlining the charges against the McCloskeys.
Burgdorf created a list of 14 "reservations" about how Hinckley had written it, claiming they weren't factual, including the use of the term "assault" rifle, which Burgdorf said was a “propaganda” term.
Hinckley responded: "I'm more than willing to remove the term but in alleging I'm using propaganda you've crossed a line, If anything, your changes, conduct and unexplainable edit in the PC strongly hint of bias or agenda."
But the McCloskeys’ defense attorney Joel Schwartz disagrees.
“I think the police actually did a very thorough job,” Schwartz said. In court documents, Schwartz argues it's the prosecution that's biased.
“In this particular case, a line was crossed, a line was blurred and it created the appearance of impropriety which is why I believe the CAO should not be the office handling this case,” Schwartz said Monday. He argues the prosecutor's office has a conflict of interest, in part because of Hinckley’s conduct and also because Kim Gardner’s recent campaign referenced the case in fundraising efforts.
“There is no doubt, they were pushing it forward, there was a sense of urgency and the urgency was called the primary election in the City of St. Louis.
In a response motion from the Circuit Attorney's Office, provided to News 4, they tell the court: "Upon review of all the legal standards and facts, there is simply no evidence to establish that the Circuit Attorney has an actual or apparent conflict in this case." The prosecution asked that the court allow Kim Gardner and the entire office to stay on the case. A judge hasn't yet ruled.
The prosecutor’s office did not provide additional comment when News 4 requested it. But Schwartz says, the emails, text and voicemail, do speak for themselves.
The attorney representing Mark and Patricia McCloskey claims the couple has received threats after their speech at the Republican National Convention Monday night. St. Louis police said they have not been asked to investigate.
“I do think it sheds a bad light on the Circuit Attorney's Office,” he said.
St. Louis police declined to comment, because the case is pending in court. In fact, the case is still with the grand jury, with the McCloskey’s next court appearance in October.
Kim Gardner, in a statement to News 4, wrote, "Due to ethical limitations, we cannot comment on pending cases. However, it’s unfortunate that internal communications between the investigative agency and the Circuit Attorney’s Office was shared with the media."