Gunman Kills Five At Missouri City Hall

KIRKWOOD, Mo. (AP) — An impromptu memorial now sits on the steps of City Hall in Kirkwood, Missouri, where six people died in a shooting Thursday night.

A reporter covering the meeting for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says a gunman, identified as Charles Thornton, shot and killed a police officer outside City Hall before entering the chambers, yelling “Shoot the mayor!” and opening fire.

Authorities say another police officer and three city officials were killed. The mayor, Mike Swoboda, was critically wounded. Another reporter was shot and is in satisfactory condition.

The gunman was eventually shot dead by police.

His brother says the gunman “went to war” with a government that was “putting torment and strife in his life.” He had lost a free-speech lawsuit 10 days earlier, and had often been a contentious presence at the council’s meetings.

The mayor once told a newspaper that the council considered banning Thornton from future meetings but decided against it.

On Friday, authorities identified the victims. Among the dead are two police officers, the city public works director, Kenneth Yost, and council members Michael Lynch and Connie Karr.

Police say Charles Lee “Cookie” Thornton opened fire at City Hall with a handgun he brought, then used one of the slain officer’s pistols to continue his assault. A reporter at the meeting says City Attorney John Hessel tried to fight off the attacker by throwing chairs. The mayor was shot and is in intensive care.

Thornton’s brother says he left behind a one-line suicide note that read “The truth will come out in the end.” Police now have the note.