Gunman opens fire at Missouri city council meeting

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Friday, February 8, 2008

Kirkwood City Hall

On Thursday, a local man known for his outbursts and disruptive behavior with city officials killed five people at a city council meeting in City of Kirkwood, Missouri, United States. During the melee, he was shot dead by police.

Among those killed were Councilwoman Connie Carr, two police officers and two others at the meeting.

The suspect shot and killed a Kirkwood Police officer on the way into City Hall where he shot a second officer. He then proceeded to shoot five more people in the room, killing 3 more. Kirkwood Police called to the scene for shots fired, returned fire killing the suspect. According to St. Louis County Police Department spokesperson Tracy Panus.

"He came from the back of the room," said Janet McNichols, a St. Louis Post-Dispatch correspondent. "He kept yelling 'shoot the mayor' and he just walked around shooting anybody he could."

The two wounded are a Suburban Journals reporter and Mayor Mike Swoboda. Swoboda underwent emergency surgery to treat a gunshot wound to the head Thursday night at St. John's Mercy Hospital in Creve Coeur. Hospital spokesman Bill McShane delined to discuss Swoboda's injuries. He did note that another Suburban Journals reporter Todd Smith was in satisfactory condition. Smith was shot in the hand.

According to McNichols, the gunman was Charles Lee "Cookie" Thornton who was arrested two years ago in the same council chambers for refusing to leave a meeting after a confrontation with Swoboda and the council. He was asked to stop and was arrested when he refused to leave the chamber.

According to KSDK, an NBC affiliate, Thornton had been banned from City Council meetings, but had made it known that he would be at Thursday night's meeting and extra police were assigned ahead of time.

KSDK also reported that the shooter fired at City Attorney John Hessel who had thrown chairs at the assailant in an attempt to stop him. The assailant then moved behind a curved desk where council members sat to fire on them.

Swoboda, council members Michael H.T. Lynch and Conne Karr, and Public Works Director Kenneth Yost were shot, said the Post's McNichols.

Thornton fled the building and was shot by responding Kirkwood police outside the building.

About 30 people were in the meeting according to McNichols.

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