Kirkwood Mayor Wounded, Six Killed In City Hall Shooting

9:27 AM, Feb 9, 2008   |    comments
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Watch a story about the victims of the shooting Listen to the mother of Charles Lee Cookie Thornton address the crowd at a Meacham Park meeting Watch NewsChannel 5's Mike Garrity's timeline of the shootings Watch NewsChannel 5's Mike Garrity's report on the shootings Kirkwood Press Conference. Alan Hopefl, Who Was Inside City Hall Talks About What He Saw. St. Louis County police say six people, including two Kirkwood police officers, three Kirkwood officials and a gunman are dead following a shooting both inside and outside the Kirkwood City Hall Thursday night. A police spokeswoman says the gunman, identified as Charles Lee "Cookie" Thornton was killed by police. Tracy Panus from the St. Louis County Police Department says the gunman parked his car across the street from city hall and approached Kirkwood Police Sergeant William Biggs. She says she does not know what happened between the two men, but at some point, Thornton shot and killed Biggs with a high caliber revolver he brought with him. Victims of Shooting Panus says Thornton took Sgt. Biggs’ gun with him when he entered city hall. Witnesses say Thornton went to the chamber where government officials were gathering for a 7 p.m. city council zoning meeting. Witnesses say Thornton screamed, "All we want is justice," and began shooting. Authorities say three city officials and one police officer were killed inside the city council meeting by Thornton who rushed the council chambers and began firing as he yelled "Shoot the mayor!" Police say those killed in the shooting include council members Michael Lynch, Connie Karr, Public Works Director Kenneth Yost and Officer Tom Ballman. Kirkwood Mayor Mike Swoboda and a reporter for the Suburban Journals newspaper, Todd Smith, were shot. Police say other Kirkwood police officers entered the chambers and exchanged gun fire with Thornton where he was fatally shot. NewsChannel 5 has confirmed Kirkwood Mayor Mike Swoboda was shot in the head twice, once in the jaw and also in the back of the head. He was transported to St. John's Mercy Medical Center, where he is in severe condition and has had two surgeries. Swoboda has served as mayor of Kirkwood since 2000 and prior to that serving as a City Council member for 16 years, serving as the Police/Fire Commissioner for four years, and as the Finance Commissioner for four years. Todd Smith, 36, is also being treated at St. John’s for a gunshot wound to the hand and is in satisfactory condition. He is scheduled to have surgery Friday afternoon. Smith is a resident of St. Louis city. He has worked for the Suburban Journals since September 2006 and has been covering Kirkwood since May 2007. Smith graduated from Central Missouri State and has his master's degree from the University of Kansas. David Bundy, the Editorial Director for the Suburban Journal released a statement about Smith. "This was a painful and tragic event. Todd was really connected to everyone, and he also knew the shooter. We are glad Todd is okay." The Backstoppers, a non-profit organization, is collecting donations for the families of Sgt. Biggs and Ofc. Ballman. For more information on Backstoppers, or to make a donation, visit their web site. Missouri Governor Matt Blunt issued a statement offering his condolences just hours after the shooting. Read the statement here. Motive For Shooting Unknown NewsChannel 5 is learning more about what might have precipitated this tragedy. Just last week, a federal court judge for the Eastern District of Missouri ruled against Charles “Cookie” Thornton in a suit between him and the city of Kirkwood. Thornton sued Kirkwood because they had banned him from speaking at city council meetings. Thornton says the ban violated his first amendment rights. At a meeting last may, Kirkwood’s city council held two public hearings relating to the expansion of two businesses. During the comment period, Thornton made harassing remarks about Mayor Mike Swoboda. Then in June, Thornton went to another city council meeting. At that meeting, he began remarks by calling the mayor a “jackass” three times and said Kirkwood was plantation-like. Last week, the judge ruled that any restriction on Thornton’s speech was reasonable. She ruled that Thornton did not have a first amendment right to engage in irrelevant debate or to voice repetitive, personal, virulent attacks against Kirkwood and its city officials. Again - this is all documented in a federal lawsuit. KSDK Reporters On The Scene

  • Mike Owens reporting from Kirkwood
  • Update on Mayor Mike Swoboda's condition after surgery
  • File video of Mayor Mike Swoboda from earlier stories on KSDK
  • Aerial video from Chopper 5 Public Comments After Shooting
  • Director of Kirkwood Schools, Ben Clark comments
  • Kay Quinn talks to Kirkwood Residence
  • Kirkwood resident Matt Clark comments on shooting.
  • Kirkwood resident Bill Reinecke speaks about shooting
  • Jim Hollinshead, Childhood Friend of Suspect, speaks.

    KSDK

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