St. Louis Public Radio News
12:25 am
Fri February 8, 2008

Six dead, two wounded in shooting at Kirkwood council meeting

St. Louis, MO – A man with a history of trouble with Kirkwood city officials opened fire at a city council meeting Thursday night and killed five people.

Authorities say two police officers and three city officials at the meeting were killed.

Kirkwood police shot and killed the gunman, Charles Lee "Cookie" Thornton.

Those killed have been identified as Public Works Director Ken Yost, and city council members Connie Karr and Mike Lynch. Police Officer William Biggs was killed outside city hall. Thornton then shot and killed Officer Tom Ballman inside the building.

Thornton had been convicted of disorderly conduct for previous outbursts.

Kirkwood resident Alan Hopeful is a regular at city council meetings. He said Thornton was often rude, but the violence was unexpected.

"It was certainly a surprise to me and anyone else who knew him," Hopeful said.

Mayor Mike Swoboda was one of two people wounded in the attack. He remains in critical condition with a gunshot wound to the head.

A Suburban Journals reporter is being treated for a hand injury.

The shooter's brother, Gerald Thornton, said his brother was "at war" with the city.

Two churches, the First Presbyterian Church of Kirkwood and Kirkwood United Methodist, will hold prayer services at noon.

Governor Matt Blunt announced that all flags at state facilities in St. Louis County will be flown at half-staff to honor the memory of the victims. Flags will remain at half-staff until dusk on the evening of the last day of memorial services for the victims.