In a Kirkwood Shooting, (MO)A gunman (Charles Lee Thonton) killed five and wounded two others in a city council meeting near St Louis, Missouri, before being shot dead by police.
St Louis County Police spokeswoman Tracy Panus told AFP that the shooting took place around 7pm local time (CST) on Thursday night, and that the death toll was “six people. That includes the gunman.”
AFP also reports that the mayor of Kirkwood county, Mike Swoboda, was among the wounded. However, police would not release information about his condition or that of the other injured man, council member Michael Lynch.
The first killing took place a few hundred yards from the government building where the meeting was being held. The suspect fired upon a police officer, mortally wounding him, Ms Panus said.
“The gunman proceeded into the city council building, where he shot another Kirkwood County police officer fatally”, said Ms Panus.
“He then shot three Kirkwood City employees,” she went on. “He then engaged in a gunfight with Kirkwood Police Officers and he was shot and killed.
“Before that happened, he shot and wounded two other people at the meeting.” The two are believed to be a civilian and a city employee.
According to the BBC, the gunman reportedly shouted “shoot the mayor” as he entered the building.
Missouri Governor Matt Blunt condemned the “senseless and horrific crime at an open government meeting”.
“I join Missourians tonight in praying for the victims, their families and friends and everyone in the community of Kirkwood,” he said.
Local newspaper The St Louis Post-Dispatch said that the gunman was one Charles Lee Thornton, who was “not a stranger to the council, where he was often a contentious presence”.
A journalist from the paper, Janet McNichols, who was present at the meeting, said: “He came from the back of the room.
“He kept [saying] something about, ‘Shoot the mayor’ and he just walked around shooting anybody he could.”
She described seeing two of those present at the meeting being shot in the head.
“After that, I was on my stomach under the chairs,” she said. “I laid on my stomach waiting to get shot. Oh God, it was a horror.”
Meanwhile five others, including a SWAT police officer, died in a shooting at a home in Los Angeles, California. Two other officers received minor wounds in a violent exchange of gunfire.
Police Chief William Bratton gave no immediate explanation as to what triggered the incident.
The dead officer, Randal Simmons, 51, is the first SWAT (special weapons and tactics) team member ever killed in the line of duty in the city.
The gunman was among the dead. The other three are believed to be relatives of the shooter.
Thornton, known as “Cookie,” was arrested and convicted for disorderly conduct after calling city officials “jackasses” and criticizing the city’s “plantation mentality.”
Those outbursts are detailed in Thornton’s federal lawsuit against the city claiming civil rights violations. A U.S. District Court judge ruled against Thornton on Jan. 28, only 10 days before the latest council meeting turned deadly.