Talk:Kirkwood City Council shooting

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Notable or news[edit]

Is this topic notable, or should it be a Wikinews article? -- SEWilco (talk) 18:22, 8 February 2008 (UTC)


I think any massacre of this many people, especially in a government building, should be deemed notable. Sluhser589 (talk) 18:47, 8 February 2008 (UTC)

Swoboda[edit]

Who or what is "Swoboda"? —Preceding unsigned comment added by 204.69.190.75 (talk) 18:30, 8 February 2008 (UTC)

Mayor Mike Swoboda is the mayor of Kirkwood who received two non lethal shots to the head. He is in critical condition, as cited in the article. Sluhser589 (talk) 18:48, 8 February 2008 (UTC)

Background \ Rationale[edit]

Does anyone have any information on the gunman's rationale for the attack? This seems like it would be a relevant piece of information. I've found numerous articles stating that the gunman had specific greviances with the local government that precipitated the attack, but as of yet I have been unable to identify what the greivances were.

i.e.:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/feedarticle/7293925

'Understand that this was an act of war by my brother. He had an actual person, or people, that he was in battle with. That this was not a random rampage,' Thornton's brother, Gerald Thornton, told MSNBC outside City Hall Friday.

`He felt that as a black contractor he was being singled out,' said Hodges, who is black. `I guess he thought mentally he had no more recourse. That's not an excuse.'


Also, don't know if this is helpful, but found the minutes from the lawsuit: http://dockets.justia.com/docket/court-moedce/case_no-4:2007cv00079/case_id-84601/ —Preceding unsigned comment added by 98.172.66.85 (talkcontribs) 20:18, 8 February 2008

See the "Background" section of the article. It has similar info to that in the local newspaper.[1] -- SEWilco (talk) 22:44, 8 February 2008 (UTC)


Evil Monster[edit]

We may have our personal opinions of who this guy is. However, the cited article is not a source for the term "evil monster" in his name. -- azileretsis 23:33, 8 February 2008 (UTC)




WAS there 7 tickets on one truck @ $1000 a ticket three days in a row when he was out of town? $21,000 when you come home from a three day weekend?

Then go over to 40-50-60-90-100K-200K? Leins against his house? Everything he had, nearly thirty years of work after college, taken?

Let them know that he strived hard in life and volunteered to help so many.    Have never seen that printed once, anywhere?

Maybe this makes everyone feel better, believing it just a race issue?

Let them know what he did in his first 50 years of life?

It is awful, this is not an excuse, or justification, but since 1980 Thornton operated the business in Kirkwood for 26 years without problems. WHY? Kirkwood takes over Meacham park, problems start, Meacham doesn't fit Mayberry?


Immenient Domain?

I may be all wrong, but I doubt it.


This is a real quote:

http://gobulldogs.truman.edu/halloffame.asp

"Cookie" Thornton, a graduate of Kirkwood High School in St. Louis, entered the university in 1974. He earned All-American track honors, finishing eighth in the NCAA Division II championships as a freshman triple jumper. Mr. Thornton was also ninth in the 1975 national high jump. He did not compete in track in 1976, but the year off did not diminish his skills. As a sophomore in 1977 he broke the school record in the high jump with a leap of 7-0 and narrowly missed collecting All-American honors at the NCAA meet. That season his best mark in the triple jump was 48-8. In 1978 he received All-American accolades again with a fifth-place finish in the NCAA high jump with 6-11. As a senior he finished second in the 1979 national high jump with a leap of 7-0. He still holds the university indoor record of 7-2.5 and outdoor mark of 7-0.5 in the high jump. Mr. Thornton compiled a number of other achievements during his career. He won an unprecedented three events at the 1978 and 1979 MIAA indoors, the high jump, long jump and triple jump, and took the high jump at the 1978 Karnes Invitational and the Texas Relays. He also finished first in the high jump at the 1979 MIAA outdoor championship. After graduating, Mr. Thornton operated TNT Trucking Co. for three years in St. Louis. Since then, he managed an asphalt concrete construction company in St. Louis. He was involved with Project 2000 Positive Adult Male Role Model. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 24.216.67.41 (talk) 08:18, 11 February 2008 (UTC)

Kirkwood offered to drop every single ticket if Thornton would stop harrassing City Council. He declined, preferring bloodshed. The details about the "first fifty years of his life" have actually appeared quite a bit in both the post-dispatch (see Sylvester Brown's column, e.g.) and the Kirkwood-Webster Times.
I'm surprised by how many people keep saying things like "There is no excuse for murder, but..." A better statement might be "There is no excuse for murder, period." --24.216.66.19 (talk) 14:11, 12 February 2008 (UTC)
Of course the state endorses murder daily to which many do not object. 'Murder' is obviously a subjective term, unless you'll be condemning the police officer that shot Thornton. So obviously saying "There is no excuse for murder" rings hollow unless you are a pacifist, in which case I'd expect to see equivocal condemnation of the shooting of Thornton. It's social conditioning that causes the questioning of some murders, while others, typically those committed under the approval of states, are assumed legitimate until proven otherwise. Murder is rarely excusable, and this doesn't appear to be the easiest case to defend, however it is noteworthy that an otherwise friendly, intelligent individual is left feeling that they have exhausted other avenues. The biggest crime to come out of this would be not questioning the situation or motive in an objective manner, but rather jumping the conclusion that all violence not proceeding from the state has no merit and that proceeding from the state is implicitly legitimate. (38.100.212.21 (talk) 13:34, 13 February 2008 (UTC))
The above detail about the tickets is according to Franklin McCallie, former Kirkwood High School principal and friend to Cookie Thornton: http://www.websterkirkwoodtimes.com/Articles-i-2008-02-08-73980.113117_Retired_Kirkwood_High_Principal_Franklin_McCallie_Releases_Statement_About_Shooting_Cookie_Thornton.html.
On another note, funerals for the victims have begun this week in Kirkwood. Is it possible to add in more detail about their lives? Thornton killed a lot of good people... it seems a shame to focus only the details of his life (as the above poster does with his track and field records, etc.) and not do the same for Ballman, Lynch, Karr, Yost, and Biggs. At least a brief mention of their remembrances might be appropriate to showing the scope of the tragedy. This information is readily available through local news sources, but I don't trust myself to do it; like the above poster, I'm a Kirkwood citizen, and I'm still pretty torn up. --24.216.66.19 (talk) 14:17, 12 February 2008 (UTC)

reply to questions and remarks from 24.216.67.41 (which was an unsigned edit)[edit]

If you read all the information cited in the article references, including the full set of documents from the federal lawsuit, you will get quite a different picture from what you have presented or asked about so far, about the money anyway.

Kirkwood never got a dime. The city had the right to go after the (under $20 thousand) fines and court costs via liens or whatever, but never attempted to do so. Instead they chose to attempt resolution via discussion. This has been noted by both McCallie and Hessel, among others.

The $200 thousand you mention, I am stumped where you got that number. Could it be that you have read about how he declared just under $500K in debts during his bankruptcy proceedings in 1999, but misremembered it as $200 thousand?

Here is what the Post-Dispatch summarized the bankruptcy proceedings: $488K in debt, owed to IRS, State of Missouri Department of Revenue, Caterpillar Financial Services, and child support arrears--amongst others. This was in 1999; before the court cases leading to the $18.x thousand in judgments payable to Kirkwood, were even begun, in 2001. Seems likely that some of the tickets may have been issued before the bankruptcy was filed, but none were ever paid so it is hard to see how they could have contributed much to the bankruptcy situation.

No, the parking tickets were not for $1,000 each and there was no $20K weekend. much less a bunch of them. If you look at the citations in the court documents referenced in the article, you see that the portion of the fines that were for parking tickets, were generally around $100 give or take a lesser amount. Perhaps more strikingly, you see how much of the $18.xK was not for parking tickets at all, but for things like assault and battery (twice, $1,000 each), illegal dumping, construction done without having obtained any construction permit for the site, etc. Maybe the thing that irritated him initially or the most was parking tickets, but he was found guilty of a lot of other stuff that best guess, short of someone spending a week going through the rest of the old records, added up to as much as, or more than, the parking tickets. Were there some citations that probably should not have been issued? Looks like the answer is yes: between the time the first court case began, and the end of the four trials on the citations for which court documents are already referenced in this article, it turned out that he pleaded or was found guilty on only about two thirds of them. Based on the one day I spent watching city court cases in another state thirty years ago, that seems about normal.

"Everything he had, nearly thirty years of work after college, taken?" you ask. Well he finished college in 1979; he declared bankruptcy in 1999. If his creditors then got anything, it was pennies on the dollar; it was the creditors who were 'taken', not him, as far as I can see. And again, Kirkwood got nothing from him, then or later, for any of the citations or criminal cases in which he was found guilty between 2002 and 2007.

This is a real tragedy. Six people are dead and another barely clinging to life, because of one very unsound mind. 208.100.194.144 (talk) 12:41, 13 February 2008 (UTC)

some issues difficult to research[edit]

Today I read a large portion of the documents from the federal civil suit filed in 2007 (the only federal suit Thornton filed; see the cited docs.justia.com URL). These include, in some cases, documents from earlier court cases (code citations and criminal charges against Thornton in city and county courts, and civil cases filed by Thornton in state courts at both original and appellate levels. The city/county/state documents from the earlier cases were presented as evidence by Kirkwood.

Taken as a group, these documents are informative but difficult to resolve in a single set of precise citation or conviction counts. This is because (1) the documents stem from different years, hence the likelihood of different citation totals-to-date; (2) some of the numbers were provided as testimony, others merely offered during arguments about various motions; (3) few of them state the start and end date they are intended to summarize.

There is testimony by Kirkwood officials that at one point he had been found guilty of 100 out of 114 citations, dating from 1996 onward, covered by the 2 city and 2 county trials held in 2001 and 2002. Thornton told the federal judge in 2007 that he had been issued 150 citations. By following the thread of the citation count as best I could (not all of the citations are tracked by the documents available from the cited web site) it appeared possible that more than 114 citations had in fact been issued at some time or another. Thornton told the federal judge that the citations he disputed began around 2000. Also unclear whether additional citations may have been issued after his 2nd county trial in 2002. So I've used wording to indicate that 'several dozen' citations ended in 'not guilty'. I figured this covered anything from 14 (114 - 100) to 50 (150 - 100).

I have left standing someone else's earlier phrase saying that Thornton was getting citations for parking in places he "...had always..." parked in. This is probably at least somewhat misleading, on three counts. First, it implies he always parked in the same places; yet remarks from some relatives and neighbors quoted in some of the cited articles, and from city officials, indicate that at least at times, he parked at different places at or near job sites, depending on the job site. Second, it does not clarify whether he had 'always' parked in those places only when the area was unincorporated, versus, had also 'always' parked there even after incorporation in 1992, and up until he began getting (many?) parking citations in 2000. Third, a Kirkwood official stated in one court document that Thornton did not begin getting (many?) citations for illegal parking until around 2000 because before then, he typically parked the equipment in a rented lot in a commercially zoned area, but stopped renting that lot around 2000 (which would have been soon after he filed for bankruptcy in 1999). At the moment I can't find the specific place in the pile of federal documents, where this is mentioned...and I don't know how to reference a specific document inside a docs.justia.com case file anyway...so I am leaving this phrase as it stands, despite the fact that it should probably be changed, or expanded to mention other aspects of the parking/citation history. Publius3 (talk) 09:19, 19 February 2008 (UTC)

Thanks for your thoroughness, Publius! You've really gone beyond the call of duty on this one... --71.10.176.130 (talk) 23:33, 19 February 2008 (UTC)

Also note, had difficulty searching the multiple PDF files downloaded for 'convenience' (!) from justia.com. Am guessing that many of them were created as TIFF files or the like and that this is preventing successful searching for text as simple as "100" or "114" or "equipment". Publius3 (talk) 09:23, 19 February 2008 (UTC)

Part of the total amount of fines which "Cookie" accrued was just over $6,000 from his conviction for assaulting Ken Yost. If you check St. Louis County's Real Estate site, revenue.stlouisco.com you can check real estate and personal property tax payment records for "Charles Thornton" and for "Maureen and Charles Thornton". The history of payments shows that payments are owed and also that payments were made erratically. His current wife, who lives in Florida, has had her home there foreclosed on.

The federal lawsuit that "Cookie" just lost was not just about his freedom of speech. In it he also sued Kirkwood for literally millions of dollars (I believe it was $5 million, but so many incorrect statements have been made that you should check the court documents.) Although I personally think that "Cookie" , in his mind, believed he legitimately deserved that money, the disappointment of losing his case, and learning he would not be receiving this windfall to make his finances solvent, had to have been very hard to just "take in stride" Adding insult to injury, he was told he had to pay court costs for the failed lawsuit. Don't take my word for these things, check them out online. One reason for so much of the confusion is that news reports quoted information about the number of tickets, the amount of fines, the harassment, and so forth that were made either by "Cookie" himself, who obviously was not objective about this, or by his brother Gerald or by someone else who did not have accurate information.

"Cookie" tried to be his own lawyer. He said that it was because he couldn't afford a lawyer. The county judge who heard one of his earlier suits told him that, if he felt he had a First Ammentment issue, many groups, including the ACLU would probably take his case for free. The judge's statement is in the court report.

As far as the murders go, an election was scheduled for April 8, 2008 to elect a new mayor. Mayor Swoboda could not run again due to term limits. Connie Karr, who eas murdered, had done extensive work with the Meacham Park Neighborhood Association, was running for mayor and was generally thought to be the likely winner. The term of Mr. Lynch, who was going to be ending. Most of the council could have been replaced in the traditional democratic manner ---VOTING--- within 2 months of the murders. What an incredible waste and tradgedy. I did not know "Cookie", and it seems as if he did many good things in his community. Unfortunately he did not seem to think he had to obey laws that apply to each of us. His bancruptcy sought to discharge federal and state income taxes as well as CHILD SUPPORT. He owed the County (not Kirkwood) real estate and personal property taxes. He had not paid a single Kirkwood ticket or the fine for Ken Yost's assault.

One additional bit of information. "Cookie's" business, Cookco Construction used to have a business address of 915 S(outh) Kirkwood Rd in Kirkwood, which is just north of the Big Bend + Kirkwood Road (hwy 67) intersection. It is a commercial area, next to the railroad tracks, and less than a mile from the house where he lived and wanted to park his vehicles. I do not know why he had that address (rental agreement or ?) or why that was discontinued. Perhaps it had something to do with his bancruptcy, but that's a wild guess.Springfield8 (talk) 06:47, 21 February 2008 (UTC)

One-Sided "Reaction" Section[edit]

It is definitely noteworthy, and documented in many media outlets (but mainly the StL Post Dispatch), that members of the community praised Thornton. There were many signs around the Meecham Park neighborhood that memorialized Thornton but said nothing of his victims. A few people even went so far as to call him a "Hero" at subsequent community meetings regarding the event. This surely should be covered here. When I'm not at work I will find links to the stories that highlight this view. Whether or not you think he is a monster or a hero, the fact that there is such division over the simple view of this man should be reflected here. --Mijunkin (talk) 19:03, 29 February 2008 (UTC)

I am not experienced enough at Wikipedia to feel like I could do a lot of good work on this section, and I've left it alone, mostly, for that reason; --unlike the first two sections which I've worked on quite a bit.  But, I've read just about everything printed on the case so far, and will be surprised if you find more than one person quoted as having called Thornton a hero. And that speaker is not a resident of Kirkwood!  

I agree that if you were to read even just the currently cited references, you would find that there is no one 'simple view of this man' represented by the remarks in them, and that a good "Reaction" writeup would try to reflect this.

If/when the Reaction section is expanded, and if it can be done without violating some Wikipedia policy, I think it should also tell about the various efforts being made to assist the families of those who were killed.

It is not exactly "Reaction" to the shootings themselves, and I am not sure whether the fresh controversy over the next mayoral election belongs in this article under Wikipedia policy/rules, but it is definitely a notable outfall of the shootings: Due to Kirkwood term limits, mayor Swoboda was ineligible for the upcoming April mayoral election; council members Rich McDonnell and Connie Karr were the only two who had filed for the position. The shootings occurred after the filing deadline, and the city had Karr's name removed from the ballot after her death. Now, McDonnell's will be the only name on the ballot. This prompted a lot of angry complaints at the next council meeting, that the city should not have removed her name and should reschedule the election. The city attorney believes that state, county and Kirkwood law prevent this, but some people disagree and have indicated that they may file suit to force rescheduling. 208.100.194.16 (talk) 02:24, 1 March 2008 (UTC)

The above remarks shown as being from '208.100.194.16' were from Publius3. For some reason I had been unwittingly logged out before I submitted it, maybe because I took too long to type it (??) Also for some strange reason the first paragraph of the remarks I added, are now being displayed ugly inside a very wide, surrounded-by-dashed-lines box. Just two more examples of why I am leery of trying to do any more work of this kind. Publius3 (talk) 02:36, 1 March 2008 (UTC)

Here is a reference for that election-schedule uproar.[1] Publius3 (talk) 02:55, 3 March 2008 (UTC)

Also found an election-related item on the city's web site. [2] Publius3 (talk) 03:35, 3 March 2008 (UTC)

Kudos to whoever added the bit about the Meacham Park association reaction; it's good to see that part of the article fleshed out more. I think it's equally important, however, to add some material about the number of people who disagree with that interpretation of the Kirkwood/Meacham Park relationship; I've certainly seen a lot of people in the recent news disagreeing sharply with that interpretation, such as the interview the Webster-Kirkwood Times did with ex-mayor Herb Jones, or the statements to the press by the surviving council members and John Hessel, the city attorney. I'm not saying that the block quote from the anonymous minister should be cut out--just that we should make sure that it doesn't stand alone as if it speaks for all of Kirkwood... --24.207.252.216 (talk) 01:39, 24 March 2008 (UTC)

I agree completely. This article is completely biased to depict this man as a monster with out even shedding any light on his side. I dont agree with what he did, but I do believe that this man got the raw end of the deal from a corrupt government. Doesn't anyone else find it odd that he left so many people unharmed? The media completely swung this story to make the government look like the victim —Preceding unsigned comment added by Etcc68 (talkcontribs) 07:29, 24 November 2010 (UTC)

Etcc68, please cite what facts you'd like to include in the article that better portray Cookie Thornton's side. It appears to be beyond dispute that he refused an offer to have 100% of his city fines forgiven if he would leave the city council in peace, and that he chose instead to premeditatedly murder a number of people; if these facts make him look like a monster, that's the fault of the facts, not the article. If he "left people unharmed," it's simply because the police killed him sixty to ninety seconds after the he started shooting in the city council chamber; he was killing as quickly as he could up until then, including Connie Karr, the councilwoman who had often taken his side against the rest of the council. If you think what he did was wrong, perhaps you should stop trying so hard to defend it. But if you do want to defend, please offer facts, and not just a comment about how you don't like how the facts make Thornton look. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 70.92.21.9 (talk) 14:29, 7 February 2011 (UTC)

Location of Biggs' death[edit]

A user has revised one sentence so that instead of saying Biggs was shot (in a parking lot) across the street from City Hall, it says that Biggs was shot in the parking lot behind city hall. Yet at http://www.stltoday.com/mds/news/html/1143 the shooting was depicted as having occurred in the parking lot across the street and near the rear entrance to Imo's, where Biggs was going to pick up dinner. This depiction is in agreement with the published work of various reporters in the first 48 hours after the shooting. This is why the Wikipedia article had, until today, said "across the street". Therefore, I have revised the wording to again say "across the street".

Some of the local media, in reporting on the 100-plus page report on the shootings issued by prosecuting attorney McCulloch at a press conference on August 8, also mention that Biggs was shot across the street. For example, http://www.kmov.com/topstories/stories/kmov_localnews_080808_kirkwood_shootings_report.295d8a81.html .

Among retellings of the press conference remarks and/or printed report, one account from an out of town newspaper says "behind city hall". Another account says the parking lot was "adjacent" to city hall. Another says "outside". I think some editors or reporters who were not already thoroughly familiar with the story, and also not entirely familiar with the relative locations of the buildings and lots in the vicinity, reworked other people's words and introduced a factual error ("behind city hall") in the process of that rework of accounts of the prosecutor's press conference. Publius3 (talk) 03:45, 22 August 2008 (UTC)

Comment from the person who made the edit: I live down the street from Kirkwood City Hall. Imo's Pizza is across Madison Avenue, a small side street, from City Hall, but is not located directly across Kirkwood Road, the main street that City Hall faces and is on. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 71.14.177.5 (talk) 18:04, 6 September 2008 (UTC)

Hmmm, after re-reading I realize that the original wording was not so clear as it might have been. When I wrote the original phrase, it did not occur to me that a reader might understand it to mean that the parking lot was across the street from the front door of city hall. This would have been impossible in early 2008 of course, because there had not been a parking lot there for ~5 years (since the old Target building was torn down and the current plaza/shops/residences were built on the site of the old Target building and its parking lot.) But on reflection, it is likely that many readers, even from the local area, are unaware that the only parking lots across any street from City Hall, are across Madison. Hence, I've revised the article to mention that the parking lot is across the side street. Publius3 (talk) 03:27, 7 September 2008 (UTC)

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External Link to 2014 Documentary?[edit]

I think it could be useful to folks interested in this topic: http://elegytoconnie.weebly.com/screenings.html Looking for comment before I add it. Aaron.michels (talk) 02:21, 10 May 2016 (UTC)

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  1. ^ "Kirkwood_Group_Urges_Delay_Of_April_Municipal_Election.html". Webster-Kirkwood Times. 2008-02-22. Retrieved 2008-03-02.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  2. ^ "Remaining City Council Members Address Vacancies Left By February 7 Tragedy". City of Kirkwood. 2008-02-19. Retrieved 2008-03-02.  line feed character in |title= at position 49 (help); Check date values in: |date= (help)