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Thread: Mo. gunman had past trouble with council

  1. #1
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    KIRKWOOD, Mo. - Ten days after losing a free-speech lawsuit against this St. Louis suburb, a gunman stormed a council meeting, yelled "Shoot the mayor!" and opened fire, critically wounding the mayor, killing two police officers and three city officials.

    The gunman, identified as Charles Lee "Cookie" Thornton, was fatally shot by law enforcers. He had claimed in the past city leaders stifled and harassed him.

    "The only way that I can put into context that you might understand is that my brother went to war tonight with the people, the government that was putting torment and strife into his life," Thornton's brother, Gerald Thornton, told KMOV-TV of St. Louis.

    The meeting had just started when the shooter opened fire, said Janet McNichols, a reporter covering the meeting for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

    The gunman killed one officer outside City Hall, then walked into the council chambers, shot another and continued pulling the trigger, said Tracy Panus, a St. Louis County Police spokeswoman. A witness said the gunman yelled "Shoot the mayor!" as he fired shots in the chambers, hitting Mayor Mike Swoboda. Officer Tom Ballman was shot in the head, McNichols said.

    Then, the shooter went after Public Works Director Kenneth Yost, who was sitting in front of Swoboda, and shot Yost in the head, McNichols said.

    As he fired at City Attorney John Hessel, Hessel tried to fight off the attacker by throwing chairs, McNichols said. The shooter then moved behind the desk where the council sits and fired more shots at council members.

    "We crawled under the chairs and just laid there," McNichols told ABC's "Good Morning America" on Friday. "We heard Cookie shooting, and then we heard some shouting, and the police, the Kirkwood police had heard what was going on, and they ran in, and they shot him."

    McNichols told the Post-Dispatch council members Michael H.T. Lynch and Connie Karr also were hit. She identified the gunman as Charles Thornton, whom she knows from covering the council.

    The names of the victims would not be released until a news conference Friday morning, Panus said. Swoboda was in critical condition Friday morning in the intensive-care unit of St. John's Mercy Medical Center in Creve Coeur, hospital spokesman Lynne Beck said. Another victim, Suburban Journals newspaper reporter Todd Smith, was in satisfactory condition Friday, Beck said.

    Yellow police tape circled the entire block that includes City Hall. An impromptu memorial was growing on the City Hall's steps, where balloons and flowers were placed in memory of the victims.

    Thornton was often a contentious presence at the council's meetings; he had twice been convicted of disorderly conduct for disrupting meetings in May 2006.

    The weekly Webster-Kirkwood Times quoted Swoboda as saying in June 2006 that Thornton's contentious remarks over the years created "one of the most embarrassing situations that I have experienced in my many years of public service."

    The mayor's comments came during a meeting attended by Thornton two weeks after he was forcibly removed from the chambers. Swoboda had said the council considered banning Thornton from future meetings but decided against it.

    Thornton said during the meeting he had been issued more than 150 tickets.

    In a federal lawsuit stemming from his arrests during two meetings just weeks apart, Thornton insisted that Kirkwood officials violated his constitutional rights to free speech by barring him from speaking at the meetings.

    But a judge in St. Louis tossed out the lawsuit Jan. 28, writing that "any restrictions on Thornton's speech were reasonable, viewpoint neutral, and served important governmental interests."

    Gerald Thornton said the legal setback may have been his brother's final straw. "He has (spoken) on it as best he could in the courts, and they denied all rights to the access of protection and he took it upon himself to go to war and end the issue," he said.
    The police department's chaplain said law enforcers from several agencies were anguished over the shootings.
    "They're all just so sad, shocked by this," said Father Robert Osborne of St. Peter Catholic Church. "This doesn't happen in Kirkwood."
    Kirkwood is about 20 miles southwest of downtown St. Louis. City Hall is in a quiet area filled with condominiums, eateries and shops, not far from a dance studio and train station. Despite its reputation locally for serenity, the city has grappled in recent years with crimes that brought it unwanted attention.
    Down the street from City Hall is the Imo's pizzeria once managed by Michael Devlin, who kidnapped 11-year-old Shawn Hornbeck in 2002 and held him for four years before authorities rescued him in January 2007. Also rescued was Ben Ownby, another teenager Devlin abducted just days before Devlin's arrest.
    Those crimes got Devlin life terms on state charges, as well as 170 years behind bars on federal charges that he made pornography.



    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080208/...gDyqwRTt2s0NUE

  2. #2
    State Researcher lockman's Avatar
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    How can this be? Government meetings are GUN FREE ZONES in the state of MO!

    Even the states with right to carry laws will find the locations they prohibit carry will be the very places most mass murders will take place.

    We still got a lot of hard work ahead.

  3. #3
    State Pioneer ConditionThree's Avatar
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    lockman wrote:
    How can this be? Government meetings are GUN FREE ZONES in the state of MO!

    Even the states with right to carry laws will find the locations they prohibit carry will be the very places most mass murders will take place.

    We still got a lot of hard work ahead.
    +1

    Nearly every city counsel meeting or public building is covered by some weapons-free zone ordinance. This is a nationwide issue disarming only the law abiding.

    And another note... The presense of police officers had absolutely no effect in detering this particular crime. The only thing that put an end to this was armed officers responding with deadly force- it could as well have been a lawfully armed citizen, if it werent prohibited by ordinance.

    This is another story that makes be believe that making public and private entities liable for safety in 'weapons free zones' is the right way to restore lawful self defense.
    New to OPEN CARRY in California? Click and read this first...

    NA MALE SUBJ ON FOOT, LS NB 3 AGO HAD A HOLSTERED HANDGUN ON HIS RIGHT HIP. WAS NOT BRANDISHING THE WEAPON, BUT RP FOUND SUSPICIOUS.
    CL SUBJ IN COMPLIANCE WITH LAW


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    ConditionThree wrote:
    The only thing that put an end to this was armed officers responding with deadly force- it could as well have been a lawfully armed citizen, if it werent prohibited by ordinance.
    ....and could have been stopped a few lives earlier than it was.

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