Moment Of Silence Planned For Kirkwood City Hall Victims

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KIRKWOOD, MO (KTVI) - Thursday marks five years since the tragic Kirkwood City Hall shootings.

Five city leaders were murdered during a city council meeting by a disgruntled resident who was killed by police.

The city’s mayor later died from his injuries.

There is a regular city council meeting taking place Thursday night inside city hall where the shootings happened.

Mayor Art McDonnell is planning to remember the public servants who were killed and those who survived the meeting.

There will be a moment of silence and an opportunity for anyone to speak about that horrible night.

It was February 7, 2008 when Charles “Cookie” Thornton opened fire during a Kirkwood city council meeting.

Thornton first killed Kirkwood Police Sergeant William Biggs in a parking lot near City Hall.

Then he went inside and killed Officer Tom Ballman and several others.

Among the victims were council members Connie Carr and Michael Lynch and Public Works Director Ken Yost.

Mayor Mike Swoboda died several months later from injuries he suffered in the shooting.

Two others were also hurt.

Kirkwood police shot and killed Thornton.

Kirkwood City Attorney John Hessel was among the survivors.  He was inside the chambers and came face to face with Thornton.  We spoke with Hessel about the terror of that night.

He says it will be tough to be at the meeting Thursday night, “He was literally standing in front of me; three feet with both guns pointed at me and I thought 'I’m going to die.' I got mad and I picked up a chair and I stepped towards him and hit him as hard as I could with the chair and he was falling back. It was the worst, most horrific thing anyone could ever experience."

A lot has changed at Kirkwood City Hall since the shooting. There is now an elaborate security system in place and uniformed as well as plain clothes police officers attend city council meetings.

There is also a walkway memorial for the victims just outside of Kirkwood City Hall.