Posted Feb. 8, 2008 – Six people are dead after a man rushed into a city council meeting in Kirkwood Mo. (a suburb of St. Louis) Thursday night and shot several people before Kirkwood police shot him dead, reports the Associated Press.
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Witnesses say the shooter, Charles Lee “Cookie” Thornton, came into the meeting shouting “Shoot the mayor!” as he was shooting several people, St. Louis County Police spokeswoman Tracy Panus told reporters.
Among those fatally wounded are two police officers and three city officials. The mayor, Mike Swoboda, was critically injured.
City Attorney John Hessel threw chairs at Thornton in an attempt to defend himself, a reporter told the AP. But he made his way behind the desk where the council sits and continued to shoot at council members.
Police have yet to state a motive for the shootings, although Thornton was said to be an infamous character at the council meetings, often making shocking comments and disrupting meetings, reports the wire service.
Mayor Swoboda referenced his antics in a newspaper article saying that on one occasion his statements produced, “one of the most embarrassing situations that I have experienced in my many years of public service,” reports the AP.
Around the time of his statement, they had actually considered banning him from future meetings but decided against it.
“We will act with integrity and continue to deal with him at these council proceedings,” Swoboda said at a meeting.
Thornton was arrested two times for disorderly conduct at two different council meetings in 2006. And once, when allowed to speak, he brought a picture of a donkey to the podium and began making disparaging remarks to the mayor, reports the AP.
Thornton was recently unsuccessful with lawsuit in which he accused officials of barring his free speech. A judge threw it out Jan. 28 writing, “any restrictions on Thornton’s speech were reasonable.”
News of the shooting has shocked the quiet community and has left the area in mourning.
"I join Missourians tonight in praying for the victims, their families and friends, and everyone in the community of Kirkwood," said Gov. Matt Blunt in a statement.