Mo. gunman's brother: "He mapped out his strategy for war and executed it"
By Jason Noble and Laura Bauer
The Kansas City Star
Related: Gunman kills 2 officers, 3 others at Mo. city council meeting
KIRKWOOD, Mo. — A brother of the man who killed five people at a Kirkwood City Council meeting defended the shooter’s actions this morning.
Standing across the street from the site of the killings, Gerald Thornton told reporters that his brother, Charles “Cookie” Thornton, had become “a country of himself” and was forced to “go to war” after the judicial system denied his claims of mistreatment.
Charles Lee "Cookie" Thornton was identified by witnesses as the gunman who opened fire at a city council meeting Thursday in Kirkwood, Mo.
(AP Photo/Webster-Kirkwood Times)
Another brother, Arthur Thornton, told The Associated Press that his brother left a suicide note on his bed warning “The truth will come out in the end,” before he went on the deadly shooting spree.
Arthur Thornton, 42, said in an interview at the family’s home that he knew his brother was responsible for the killings when he read the one-line note.
“It looks like my brother is going crazy, but he’s just trying to get people’s attention,” Thornton said, explaining he believed the note reflected his brother’s growing frustration with local leaders.
Gerald Thornton said his brother’s problems with the city stemmed from disagreements over building permits. Charles Thornton owned a construction company, Cook Co., that was frequently cited for performing work without the proper permits.
Charles Thornton was cited for more than 126 violations totaling around $64,000, Gerald Thornton said.
The city’s arguments were wrong, his brother said, but when Thornton challenged them in court, his arguments were overruled. It was those failures to find justice in the courts that led him to act last night.
“I understand why he did it,” he said. “He declared war because of the actions done by the court.”
Gerald Thornton said he last saw his brother last night, but said he had no idea what he was about to do.
He had never known Charles Thornton to own or carry a gun, he said.
Still, Thornton said he did believe his brother’s actions were planned.
“Those people he went after were the people listed in his problems with the city,” Thornton said. “Once he was abused by the people in that hall over there he stood up and tried to rectify it.”
Surrounded by a crush of reporters, Gerald Thornton, two years Charles’ senior and one of nine siblings, verged on obstinate in his defense of his brother’s actions.
When asked if he felt for his brother’s victims, Thornton said: “No one wants to see loss of life over issues that should’ve been solved. We have educated people over there and they should’ve been able to see the things they were doing should’ve came to an end sooner.”
Thornton also raised the issue of race, suggesting that African Americans have a more difficult time exerting their rights and that his brother’s race was a factor in his difficulties with the city and in the courts.
Copyright 2008 The Kansas City Star