Gunman kills five in Missouri city hall

Kirkwood City Hall
Police outside the city hall in Kirkwood, Missouri

This hits close to home: Sharon and Derek were married in Kirkwood and attended church there for years. A friend tells us that the shooter was considered an upstanding citizen and small businessman who volunteered at a local elementary school — until recently. What happened to Charles Lee Thornton? Note his odd behavior, repeating the phrase, “Shoot the mayor,” during the incident.

UPDATE: You can find an online version of a lawsuit filed by Thornton against the City of Kirkwood HERE. This lawsuit was filed in January 2007. On January 28, 2008, the result came down this way:

JUDGMENT – IT IS HEREBY ORDERED, ADJUDGED AND DECREED that defendant shall have summary judgment on plaintiff’s complaint, and plaintiff’s complaint is dismissed with prejudice. Plaintiff shall bear all taxable costs of this action. Signed by Honorable Catherine D. Perry on 1/28/08.

We’re watching CNN now (11:00 or so on Friday morning), and reporters have said nothing of the complaint that we found in minutes. So much for journalism. The amount of damages sought was only $350.00! What inner demons drove this businessman to murder and suicide? Surely, not the money.

To get a better handle on the history behind this tragedy, we refer to another article — found online — published yesterday morning by firstamendmentcenter.org, titled “Federal court rejects council critic’s First Amendment claims”. Perhaps this final legal defeat proved more than Thornton could bear. We pray for all those killed, including the shooter. — PID

Feb 8, 2008 KIRKWOOD, Missouri (Reuters) — A gunman killed two police officers and three city officials on Thursday night when he stormed into a city council meeting in a suburb of St. Louis, police said.

The gunman, who was later shot dead by police, was identified by witnesses as 52-year-old Charles Lee “Cookie” Thornton, a contractor in a feud with local officials. Police declined to confirm his identity. He killed one police officer in the parking lot outside the city hall building in Kirkwood, Missouri, before rushing in as the meeting was getting under way.

“He kept saying something about, ‘Shoot the mayor’ and he just walked around shooting anybody he could,” said Janet McNichols, a reporter covering the meeting for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch newspaper. Police said he shot dead a second police officer, and three two council members and a city engineer.

Kirkwood Mayor Mike Swoboda was shot in the head and was in critical condition. Full Report