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DA: Mo. city council gunman would've killed more

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[August 09, 2008]  CLAYTON, Mo. (AP) -- A man who fatally shot five people during a rampage at a city council meeting in suburban St. Louis intended to kill as many city officials as he could, a prosecutor said Friday in releasing the conclusions of the investigation.

InsuranceSt. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch said evidence gathered after the Feb. 7 shooting indicated Charles "Cookie" Thornton would have killed more people during the Kirkwood City Council meeting had he not been shot and killed himself.

Thornton's rampage lasted less than a minute before he was shot, McCulloch said. Thornton, 52, killed a police officer outside City Hall before fatally shooting another officer, two council members and the city's public works director inside the building. A reporter and then-Mayor Mike Swoboda were injured.

"Clearly, from all the evidence in the case, Charles Thornton went to the Kirkwood City Council that night for the purpose of executing as many members of the ... council and city administration as he could," McCulloch said.

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He cited Thornton's shooting of Councilwoman Connie Karr, who had long tried to help Thornton resolve his many disputes with the city. He said Thornton had to follow her around a corner to kill her.

In addition to a report about the investigation, McCulloch released an audio recording of the meeting. On it, city officials and audience members are heard reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and beginning the meeting before shots ring out and screaming is heard.

Although witnesses remember Thornton yelling several different things, he is captured on tape yelling only, "Hands in the air, hands in the air."

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McCulloch said 18 shots were fired that night. Thornton fired one shot outside that killed a police sergeant and 11 shots inside City Hall. Two officers responding to the attack fired six shots inside the building, hitting Thornton twice, he said.

Thornton had been feuding with City Hall for years. He blamed the city for lost contracts for his demolition business. He also was angry about tickets he received for code violations and for illegally parking his work trucks.

McCulloch said it was unclear where or when Thornton got the gun he brought with him, which had been reported stolen 13 years ago.

A message was left for a relative of Thornton's seeking comment.


Associated Press writer Cheryl Wittenauer in St. Louis contributed to this report.

[Associated Press; By BETSY TAYLOR]

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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