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The Lesson of Kirkwood (MO)

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  • The Lesson of Kirkwood (MO)

    http://www.americanthinker.com/2008/...irkwood_1.html

    It was just another city council meeting in the St. Louis suburb of Kirkwood, Missouri, population about 28,000. It was a Thursday evening and the session was just being called to order after the Pledge of Allegiance was recited. Although the council meetings in Kirkwood were occasionally immersed in controversy, they were reflective of a thousand other cities and towns across the country in which issues over zoning, parks, business and residential growth are often discussed with heated intensity. The mayor, council members and town staff had no reason to believe that this night would be any different. Certainly, they couldn't have imagined that in a matter of minutes 5 people would be shot dead in and around the building and 2 others would be severely wounded.

    While Mayor Mike Swoboda, 69, was gaveling the meeting to begin, Lee "Cookie" Thornton, 52, a man well-known for his angry tirades at council sessions, was in the parking lot shooting to death Sgt. William Biggs, 50, a 20 year veteran of the Kirkwood Police Department. He took the slain officer's gun and burst into the council chambers, killing Police Officer Tom Ballman, 37, the department's spokesman and community service officer who was on duty at the meeting. Witnesses said Thornton began yelling, "Shoot the mayor," as he started his bloody rampage.

    "We crawled under the chairs and just laid there," said a severely shaken reporter who was covering the meeting for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Before the crazed gunman was brought down by other officers arriving at the scene he had killed 3 more people and wounded another two.

    Among the dead were council members, Connie Karr, 51, in her second term and intending to run for mayor; Michael Lynch, 63, who had been on the council since 2000; and Kenneth Yost, 61, who served as the Public Works Director for the city. The mayor was wounded as was Todd Smith, a 36 year-old reporter. Mayor Swoboda, in critical condition, is serving his second and final term as mayor because of term limits. He is known by some as "Mr. Ubiquitous" because he shows up at every event. Most residents had good words for the mayor's commitment to the city and his many accomplishments. Yet, there was one resident who harbored a deep hatred for a man whom he believed was responsible for his torment.

    Thornton was irate over zoning decisions that went against him, was furious over dozens of parking tickets that led to some $2,000 in fines and was livid over City Council attempts to curb his ranting at city meetings.

    His outbursts during meetings had twice resulted in his forcible removal and arrests for disorderly conduct. Late last month, a judge threw out his lawsuit claiming the city infringed on his freedom of speech. Some say that was the final setback that put him over the edge. Reading about this horrific tragedy makes me wonder why someone didn't take steps to keep it from happening. How many signs do we need to forewarn us of danger? This man Thornton had been behaving like a maniac at council meetings for years. He had been handcuffed and literally dragged from chambers as he cursed the mayor and other city officials. At one point, the council considered banning him permanently, ultimately deciding he had a right to be there, but, because he had been disruptive at the podium, was prohibited from speaking.

    Yes, hindsight is 20/20 and there's no purpose in trying to second guess those who didn't insulate themselves from someone who appeared to be emotionally deranged. However, we can and should learn something from this homicidal rampage.

    The police officers were the first targets because the killer knew they were armed. Once he removed the threat from them, he knew he could begin to satisfy his malevolent thirst for revenge, unimpeded. The town attorney threw a couple of chairs at the madman, warding off some shots directed at him. Suppose that attorney was armed? How many lives might he have saved?

    Suppose there had been a police officer in civilian clothes at the meeting? Last year, a former police officer at a Colorado church drew her weapon and killed a rampaging gunman before he could take any more lives.

    We can't read anyone's mind, but we can read their behavior. Those 5 innocent people deserved to go home to their families that night. One inconspicuous police officer might have made it possible for at least some of them to do so.


    Bob Weir is a former detective sergeant in the New York City Police Department. He is the executive editor of The News Connection in Highland Village, Texas. Email Bob.

    [email protected]

  • #2
    Why does every shooting have to turn into a concealed carry argument. What if the person with the concealed weapon missed and ended up killing even more people? What if they just thought someone had a gun, but they actually didn't? The facts in the story were enough, there didn't need to be an editorial in the end also.

    Comment


    • #3
      I think the editorial is the point of the post.

      I'd rather risk the missed shot and possibly ending the threat than having a guy freely shooting unarmed people as they flee. The point was that an armed plain clothes officer would have probably ended this before the fifth person had to lose their life. Its an article about what can be learned from this incident. I think in this day and age it would be very benificial to have undercover officers at public meetings!!

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by alexg View Post
        Why does every shooting have to turn into a concealed carry argument. What if the person with the concealed weapon missed and ended up killing even more people? What if they just thought someone had a gun, but they actually didn't? The facts in the story were enough, there didn't need to be an editorial in the end also.
        It stands to reason that there aren't many Gun Shows, firing ranges or police stations that are subjected to killing sprees...yet these pesky gun-free zones keep getting people picked off left and right, one after another.

        Food, meet Thought.
        A true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.

        -GK Chesterton

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Contact View Post
          It stands to reason that there aren't many Gun Shows, firing ranges or police stations that are subjected to killing sprees...yet these pesky gun-free zones keep getting people picked off left and right, one after another.

          Food, meet Thought.

          +1

          {{ Beer passed to you!! }}

          The comments above reflect my personal opinion as a private citizen, ordinary motorist and all-around good guy.

          The aforementioned advice should not be construed to represent any type of professional opinion, legal counsel or other type of instruction with regard to traffic laws, judicial proceedings or official agency policy.

          ------------------------------------------------

          "Ignorance on fire is hotter than knowledge on ice."

          Comment


          • #6
            I didn't mean to start an argument over this, I only stated the other side of the argument because it annoys me when people use a tragedy to try and impose their will on people. Having undercover cops at things would be good, giving untrained people guns would not.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by alexg View Post
              I didn't mean to start an argument over this, I only stated the other side of the argument because it annoys me when people use a tragedy to try and impose their will on people. Having undercover cops at things would be good, giving untrained people guns would not.
              Nowhere do I see it mentioned that we should be giving untrained people firearms.
              A true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.

              -GK Chesterton

              Comment


              • #8
                It didn't directly say that, but it implied that the lawyer should have been carrying a weapon. I wasn't commenting specifically on this story, I was commenting about the fact that this issue comes up in pretty much every situation where it could possibly be applied.

                Comment


                • #9
                  I think that a little further thought would show that said armed lawyer, baker, fireman, indian chief, would have satisfied the training requirements of the state in which he/she was carrying...

                  That seems completely preferable to me to having a room full of innocent victims waiting to be slaughtered.

                  I realize that my thoughts may offend the sensibilities of New Yorkers, Marylanders, Wisconsinites, Illinoisans (??) etc... it does, however seem to be somewhat of a disincentive to that type of activity in other venues which allow concealed (and legal) carry of a weapon.
                  Living the Dream... One Day at a Time!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I don't recall seeing any mention in the original post of "giving untrained people guns." I doubt you'd get any argument from anyone here that that would not be a bright idea.
                    You can't hardly get a concealed carry permit anymore without providing proof of some training/experience. Here in Maine, somebody even proposed legislation to make refresher training mandatory to renew the license. I'm all in favor of repeated practice and periodic requalification, but anyone with any sense is doing that on their own, quite often just because it's fun.
                    Guns, knives, and automobiles can all be misused, but they require human interaction for that. How about if we go closer to the source of such problems, and have a little better "EDP/MDP control" instead of gun control? (Emotionally or Mentally Disturbed Person.)
                    Whether he used a gun, or a bulldozer like the guy in Colorado did, Thornton was seriously overdue for some counseling, medication, or a long time-out in a rubber room. Maybe all of those.
                    --
                    Capital Punishment means never having to say "you again?"

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I don't know what the requirements are to get a concealed weapon, but I would assume they don't include being shot at. People react completely differently when they are under stress, and a room full of people is not a good place to find out just how good of a shot you are. I don't even necessarily disagree with you, but it looks like I'm arguing for the other side now. That's alright though. I see both sides of the issue.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        The lesson, the same that should have been learned from the Granby Colorado Rampage where on June 4, 2004, Marvin Heemeyer, a local businessman and skilled welder, used a 50-ton Komatsu D335A bulldozer he had custom armor-plated (often dubbed by locals as "The Kill Dozer") to damage or destroy several buildings in the town, including its town hall, the public library, a bank, a concrete batch plant, and a house owned by the town's former mayor. Heemeyer was reportedly upset over a zoning dispute which he believed led to the closure of his muffler shop; he targeted buildings owned by those involved in his dispute. Nobody was injured in the incident, though Heemeyr later committed suicide.

                        -AND-

                        Also, lets not forget the lessons of The Columbine High School massacre occurred on Tuesday, April 20, 1999, at Columbine High School in unincorporated Jefferson County, Colorado (the CDP of Columbine) near Denver and Littleton. Two students, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, embarked on a shooting rampage, killing 12 students and a teacher, as well as wounding 23 others, before committing suicide.

                        The lesson is that sometimes when you mess with the bull you get the horn. Not all people are created equal, and some deal with things in bad ways. It is not a gun issue or a bull dozer issue, it is an issue of human nature and the things that we do to each other.

                        Comment

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