ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) - Todd Smith was a newspaper reporter covering the Kirkwood City Council meeting on February 7, 2008. It was a night Smith says changed his life forever.
Gunman Charles "Cookie" Thornton stormed into the Kirkwood city council meeting and opened fire. When it was all over, seven people, including the gunman, were dead: two police officers, three Kirkwood city council members and the mayor.
Todd Smith took one of Thornton's bullets in his right hand. Smith was the only one injured in the shooting to survive.
Smith is now a communication specialist at the Father's Support Center in North St. Louis. Fathers’ Support Center has consistently provided a comprehensive program of services for men who want to learn to be a responsible father, committed to a strong family relationship.
Since its founding, Fathers’ Support Center has served more than 9,000 fathers and their families -- including more than 22,500 children. FSC has experienced continued success - 75% employment, 72% participation rate for child support and an 80% interaction with children rate. The program delivers positive results for fathers, their children and the community as a whole.
Smith says Cookie Thornton was deeply in debt at the time of the shooting and Smith believes by working at the Father's Support Center, it gives him the opportunity to help fight for change in society.
Smith adds, when it comes to gun violence, it goes deeper than just guns and includes mental health programs and organizations like the Father's Support Center to help strengthen families.