A disgruntled business owner named Charles Lee “Cookie” Thornton opened fire last night at a City Council meeting in the St. Louis suburb of Kirkwood, killing five people–including a City Council member and two police officers–before he was shot to death by another officer, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. said to his family were “To God be the glory” and that he loved them. The shooter was yelling about Mayor Mike Swoboda, who was injured in the attack.
On Jan. 28, a federal judge in St. Louis dismissed a lawsuit in which Thornton, claimed Kirkwood officials violated his free speech rights by prohibiting him from speaking out at meetings. Judge Catherine Perry noted Thornton had twice been convicted of disorderly conduct for disrupting meetings in 2006 with off-point complaints about persecution by officials. “He’d come to the meeting and he’d have a big easel and a picture of a donkey on there and call the council asses,” said a Post-Dispatch correspondent. A former high school classmate of Thornton said police had cracked down on his parking of vehicles for his construction company outside his home. He felt harassed, said the friend: “It got to where he was showing up at every council meeting and trying to dominate everything. He kind of lost his mind.”