Kirkwood Remembers: 5 Years Since City Hall Shootings
City leaders described February 7, 2008 as a day that made the community stronger despite "unbelievable" and "horrific" events.
Let the past be recorded in the pages of history; let time be the judge of the past.
Teach us to look forward with love and helpfulness.
We pray to live and work together in harmony throgh the responsibility of government; for worthy are they who gain mastery of self, for they have the key to success.
Unite us together in encouragement, help u face the future with confidence; for united, faith grows.
Words that made up a prayer used in Kirkwood 41 years ago were read again Thursday by Kirkwood Mayor Art McDonnell as the city council met five years to the day since Cookie Thornton, shot eight people at a council meeting, ultimately taking the lives of six people. Thornton was shot and killed by police.
"We'll never forget this day, but we aren't going to let it be the thing that we're known by," McDonnell told reporters before the meeting, adding that Kirkwood citizens "pulled us out of the valley of darkness which we fell into February 7, 2008."
Thursday's meeting included a moment of silence and the reading of victims' names. Kirkwood Police Officers Tom Ballman and William Biggs, Councilwoman Connie Karr, Councilman Mike Lynch, Public Works Director Kenneth Yost, and Mayor Mike Swoboda.
Before Thursday's meeting, a group of citizens, which included City Councilman Bob Sears and City Attorney John Hessel, paused for a remembrance outside the building, not far from the walking path dedicated to the victims of the shooting.
As members of the group were invited to offer their own thoughts, one asked that Thornton's name not be mentioned, as it had in 2012. Zoe Perkins, who said Karr was a dear friend whom she spoke with just hours before her death, said that for her those events feel just like yesterday and that try as she might, "This is just the event that keeps surfacing."
"I felt that she was someone who was really trying to reach out to everyone in Kirkwood," Perkins said of Car. "That's what made her so unique."
Thursday's meeting lasted more than three hours, as city leaders held public hearings on U-Gas and an Andy's Frozen Custard, had fervent debate about city utility rates. But at the end of the meeting, those on the dais and offered reflections.
"The last words you say to someone coudl be your last words," Hessel said in thanking those who have reached out to him, since that night, when he threw chairs at Thornton and ran for his life "Those are the kind of thigs that have allowed me to continue," he said, despite the horrific events.
Councilman Iggy Yuan was matter-of-fact in acknowledging Thursday that Hessel's actions that night "bought me time."
Councilwoman Gina Jaksetic said the night was a reason to pause and reflect, but was overcome with emotion before being able to finish.
City staff projected twin photos of Thursday's rainbow in council chambers prior to the start of the meeting.
"You enjoy the rainbows, you enjoy the sunsets," Mayor McDonnell said as Thursday's meeting drew to a close.