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St. Louis Back in the (Bad) News

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St. Louis Back in the (Bad) News

Postby JTWood » Fri Feb 08, 2008 9:28 am

So we have the mySpace harassment that ended in suicide, and before that we had Michael Devlin, the guy that had kidnapped a boy and held him captive for multiple years. Now, we have a psychopath that killed 5 people at a city council meeting (might rise to 6 soon). This shooting happened in the same town where Devlin was living.

CNN.com wrote: KIRKWOOD, Missouri (CNN) -- A gunman killed five people and wounded two Thursday night at a police station and City Council meeting in suburban St. Louis before officers shot and killed him, police said.

Two police officers were among the dead, said Tracy Panus, spokeswoman for St. Louis County police.

"We have what we believe to be our suspect," Panus said. "There's no reason for the Kirkwood residents to feel unsafe at this point."

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported the dead included Councilwoman Connie Karr, Public Works Director Kenneth Yost and police officers Tom Ballman and William Biggs.

Mayor Mike Swoboda was wounded and in critical condition, and Suburban Journals newspaper reporter Todd Smith was in satisfactory condition, St. John's Mercy Hospital spokesman Bill McShane told The Associated Press.

The shootings began shortly after 7 p.m. just outside the Kirkwood City Hall when a man approached a police officer in the parking lot of the Kirkwood police station and fatally shot him, Panus said. The officer died at the scene. Video Watch emergency vehicles swarm the area »

The suspect then went into the City Council chambers, she said, and killed a second police officer before fatally shooting three city officials who were attending the meeting, Panus said.

Kirkwood police officers returned fire, Panus said, killing the suspect.

Police did not identify the suspect or victims.

A correspondent for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Janet McNichols, who was in the City Council meeting when the shootings took place, identified the gunman as Charles Lee Thornton, the newspaper reported.

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 center -- before the shooting -- Thornton asked to speak during public-comment portions of 2006 meetings on specific topics but instead discussed what he alleged was harassment of him by city officials.

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

Rather than discussing the subject at hand, Perry wrote, "Thornton engaged in personal attacks against the mayor, Kirkwood and the city council. ... Because Thornton does not have a First Amendment right to engage in irrelevant debate and to voice repetitive, personal, virulent attacks against Kirkwood and its city officials during the comment portion of a city council public hearing, his claim fails as a matter of law," according to the First Amendment Center.

Thornton's brother, Gerald, told CNN affiliate KMOV-TV in St. Louis that his brother had serious grievances with the city government.

"The only way that I can put it in a context that you might understand is that my brother went to war tonight with the people that were of the government that was putting torment and strife into his life," Thornton told KMOV.

"And he had spoke on it as best he could in the courts, and they denied him all access to the rights of protection, and therefore he took it upon himself to go to war and end the issue."

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.

Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt responded to news of the shooting, saying, "Tonight our fellow Missourians in the city of Kirkwood were terrorized by a senseless and horrific crime at an open government meeting."

Blunt said, "I join Missourians tonight in praying for the victims, their families and friends, and everyone in the community of Kirkwood."
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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.

It was also the scene of another high-profile recent criminal case. Pizzeria employee Michael Devlin pleaded guilty to charges, including kidnapping and sexual assault, after police found two missing boys in his Kirkwood apartment in January 2007. One of the boys was held for four years.
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Re: St. Louis Back in the (Bad) News

Postby KCollins1304 » Fri Feb 08, 2008 9:48 am

Sounds horrible :-/
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Re: St. Louis Back in the (Bad) News

Postby knapplc » Fri Feb 08, 2008 11:35 am

How odd that nobody has ever heard of Kirkwood, MO until a while ago, now there's two bizarre stories from there in a year.

Weird how things group up like that.
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Re: St. Louis Back in the (Bad) News

Postby Snakes Gould » Fri Feb 08, 2008 3:16 pm

wow thats a terrible story as i feel for any police officer who is killed in the line of duty, but this seems strange to me...

theres all kinds of metal detectors and police officers in and around city hall in philadelphia. i guess in a small town they thought it was nothing to worry about. very sad.
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Re: St. Louis Back in the (Bad) News

Postby AussieDodger » Sat Feb 09, 2008 3:04 am

This is exactly why they should have kept loony bins open.
When I went to Melbourne there were some really really psycho looking people hanging/loitering around the streets.(Talking to themselves etc).
Back in "the day" those people would be in institutions.
You hear about people like this guy going on mini killing sprees ALL THE TIME!
Hopefully this will make the politicians wake up to this problem.
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Re: St. Louis Back in the (Bad) News

Postby smoovethug » Sat Feb 09, 2008 3:18 am

Terrible story. It's never good when anyone dies over something silly like this especially police officers who are there to serve and protect. This line from his brother really jumped out at me and made me shake my head.

"The only way that I can put it in a context that you might understand is that my brother went to war tonight with the people that were of the government that was putting torment and strife into his life," Thornton told KMOV.


Have some respect for the men and women who are ACTUALLY at war. :-t :-P
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Re: St. Louis Back in the (Bad) News

Postby RugbyD » Sun Feb 10, 2008 11:08 am

I have a friend that lives in Kirkwood and one in nearby O'Fallon and they had some interesting news on this. The guy is commonly referred to as 'Cookie" apparently, so we'll go with that.

Cookie was defeinitely off-center, and that's an understatement, but to call him totally nuts is an exaggeration. Cookie owned a construction business and would sometimes leave a construction vehicle (a Bobcat or something smallish is what I gathered) on his property. This is the source of all the tickets he got and they are legit citiations in probably all cases. Given that so many had piled up he owed a substantial sum that doesn't just get paid off by dropping a check in the mail.

Cookie apparently tried to work something out with the city to the effect of a manageable sinlge payment or an extended payment plan of some sort, but city officials didn't want to deal with him. Whether they tried and he was making unreasonable demands or they just ignored him from the start I do not know, but in the end they refused to further communicate with him on this issue. Combined with whatever else he ahd against members of the city govt, he finally went over the edge.

The moral of the story: No matter how unpleasant a constituent is, don't ignore them in the hopes that they'll go away. Do your job as a public official and work through the problems in front of you, especially the big ones. If you have to bring in the police or start legal proceedings, get the work done because it won't go away. It's worth preventing the highly unlikely scenario that a problem citizen takes terrible violent action against you because they feel neglected, rightly or wrongly. This situation isn't about who was right and wrong as much as it was who was willing to go through the effort to come out on top.
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Re: St. Louis Back in the (Bad) News

Postby JTWood » Wed Mar 05, 2008 11:07 pm

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Re: St. Louis Back in the (Bad) News

Postby Madison » Thu Mar 06, 2008 3:01 am

JTWood wrote:Annnnnnd... We're back in the news again.

:-C


Man JT, I'd suggest moving, but there are idiots like those everywhere it seems nowadays. :-/

Richelle looks nice though. ;-D
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Re: St. Louis Back in the (Bad) News

Postby JTWood » Thu Mar 06, 2008 9:04 am

Madison wrote:Richelle looks nice though. ;-D

Only you, Mad...
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