10th anniversary of Kirkwood City Hall shooting

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KIRKWOOD, Mo. - The city of Kirkwood will hold a remembrance ceremony Wednesday night (Feb. 7) in honor of the lives lost during a shooting at Kirkwood City Hall 10 years ago.

On Feb. 7, 2008, Charles “Cookie” Thornton opened fire on a city hall meeting killing two police officers: Sgt. William Biggs, Jr. and Officer Tom Ballman, and three city leaders: Councilwoman Connie Karr, Councilman Michael Lynch, and Public Works Director Kenneth Yost. Reporter Todd Smith was also injured before police killed Thornton.

Kirkwood Mayor Mike Swoboda died seven months later from complications related to the injuries he sustained during the shooting.

Kirkwood City Attorney John Hessel was there the night of the shooting and survived. He spoke with Fox 2 on the five year anniversary of the shooting about that night.

"I would not wish (the experience) on my worst enemy," said Hessel. "I remember it like it was yesterday when I looked into his eyes, and it was like looking into the eyes of a shark – very menacing but no emotion, and I said, ‘Cookie, don’t do it,’ and I picked up a chair and threw it at him.”

Wednesday's ceremony will include a color guard, music, candles, and a few remarks. The ceremony will be held on the front steps (on the east side) of City Hall starting at 7 p.m. The ceremony will last about 30 minutes. The program will conclude with a procession to Memorial Walkway.

Kirkwood Road (Lindbergh Boulevard) between Argonne Drive and Monroe Avenue will be closed to traffic starting at 6 p.m. It will reopen after the crowd has cleared.

Tune in to Fox 2 at 9 p.m. as Hessel, joined by his wife and daughter, Fox 2's Katherine Hessel, sits down with Mandy Murphey to talk about the events of that night and the healing process that has followed over the past decade.

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