Monday, February 11, 2008

UPDATE::Charles Lee Thornton...shooter at Kirkwood, MO council meeting

(shooter, Charles Lee Thornton)

City Mourns, City Hall Rampage

KIRKWOOD, Missouri (CNN) -- Hundreds of people sang "Amazing Grace" and prayed Friday evening as they gathered at a City Hall in suburban St. Louis, Missouri, to mourn the victims of a shooting spree.

Hundreds gather for a candlelight vigil Friday night near Kirkwood City Hall near St. Louis, Missouri.

The candlelight vigil took place a day after a man stormed into a City Council meeting in Kirkwood and opened fire, killing five people and wounding two before being shot and killed by police.

The alleged gunman left a note saying "the truth will win in the end," the man's brother said Friday.

The note was found on Charles Lee "Cookie" Thornton's bed, Gerald Thornton told CNN.

Earlier, the deputy mayor of Kirkwood said the small city "will never be the same" after the shooting.

"This is such a shock to all of us," Deputy Mayor Timothy Griffin said at a news conference. "This is a tragedy of untold magnitude." Video Watch Kirkwood mourn »

Mayor Mike Swoboda was shot at the meeting and is in serious condition, Griffin said. A local journalist, Todd Smith, is in satisfactory condition. Video Watch update on shooting victims »

The five people killed were police officers Tom Ballman and William Biggs, Councilwoman Connie Karr, Public Works Director Kenneth Yost, and Councilman Michael Lynch, authorities said.

"Their families know they have the support of the entire community," Griffin said.
Don't Miss

* KMOV: Gunman's relative: 'My brother went to war'
* KSDK: Witness: Shooter said he wanted 'justice'

Police have not publicly identified the gunman, but witnesses said he was Charles Thornton -- a man who they said regularly disrupted meetings to air grievances and complain, though it was not clear what was behind his fury.

No one has made an official statement on Thornton's behalf, but his brother Gerald on Thursday said he "went to war tonight with the people that were of the government."

On Friday, Gerald Thornton repeatedly refused to say that his brother had done anything wrong in an interview with CNN, saying only that his brother felt his "constitutional protection was not guaranteed." He would not elaborate.

He said his brother's final words to his family were: "To God be the glory," "I love you," and "I'll see you soon." Video Watch the gunman's brother talk about a motive for the shooting »

Police said the shooter had two guns when he entered the City Council chambers Thursday night -- a large-caliber revolver he brought with him and a service weapon he took from Biggs after shooting the police sergeant.

A friend of Thornton's, Ron Hodges, told The Associated Press the city had ticketed Thornton's demolition and asphalt business for parking his commercial vehicles illegally. Thornton said he had received 150 tickets, Hodges told the AP, and the tickets were "eating at him."

Tracy Panus, spokeswoman for St. Louis County police, said authorities believe the suspect parked his vehicle in a lot outside the police station and City Hall, encountered Biggs and shot him, then took his gun.

He proceeded into the council chambers, where he shot the other people.

A witness told the AP the gunman yelled, "Shoot the mayor!" as he stormed into the room.

Janet McNichols, a correspondent with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, was also at the meeting.

"I heard him yell something about a gun, and I looked up, and I saw officer Ballman had been shot in the head," she said in a video posted on the newspaper's Web site.

"Then I looked right in front of me, and Mr. Yost had been shot in the head, too. He fell over. I could hear him breathing. And the woman sitting next to me, another reporter, we crawled under the chairs and just laid there."Video Watch McNichols describe hiding under a chair as bullets flew »

Other Kirkwood officers came to the scene and shot and killed the gunman, Panus said.

She would not comment on specific security procedures at the City Council meeting but said the measures "are something that they followed."

Authorities are working to piece together exactly what happened, she said.

An eyewitness to the shootings said Thornton had disrupted City Council meetings frequently in the past.

"He would make inappropriate noises, heehawing like a donkey. He would make derogatory comments towards the director of public works, the city attorney and the mayor," Alan Hopefl said Friday. "None of it seemed to make any sense as far as him trying to make a point, as far as why he was really there and what his major complaints were." Video Watch Hopefl tell how he escaped the shooting scene »

Thornton sued the city of Kirkwood after he was arrested twice for disorderly conduct at two council meetings in 2006. He later was convicted, according to the First Amendment Center, a group that says it works to preserve First Amendment freedoms.

According to a Thursday article written by the First Amendment Center -- before the shooting -- Thornton asked to speak during public-comment portions of 2006 meetings on specific topics but instead discussed his alleged harassment by city officials.

In his lawsuit, Thornton said his First Amendment rights had been violated. But in a January 28 ruling, U.S. District Judge Catherine Perry said that the public-comment portion of a meeting could be reserved for certain groups and topics of discussion.

Bill Reineke, a builder and acquaintance of Thornton's for 15 years, said he sensed a change in him starting three months ago.

"He seemed to feel lately that things were going wrong," Reineke said. "He would run into City Hall once in a while during meetings, and he would talk about the plantation mentality of the mayor and board."

Reineke said Thornton had begun to hold grudges.

"I don't know what made him go off -- what made him twist -- but it's just a darn shame for everyone concerned," he said.

Kirkwood, a town of about 27,000 people, is about 10 miles west-southwest of St. Louis. Kirkwood's Web site bills the city as "Queen of the St. Louis Suburbs" with high property values and quality public schools source

**scroll to the bottom and get Recognizd! Sign my "Slide Guestbook!**

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please know...threats of hell and bible scriptures are futile-look at your church if you don't believe me! Get your 'body of christ' in order and then come talk to me.

Yours in Reason, Bria :)