Kirkwood City Council shooting by Charles Lee Thornton spotlighted on 20/20 on ID Presents: Homicide

Charles Lee Thornton photo
Charles Lee Thornton murdered five people in Kirkwood City Council shooting rampage. Pic Credit: Family Photo

The latest episode of 20/20 on ID Presents: Homicide on Investigation Discovery features the case of Charles Lee Thornton, who murdered five people before he was gunned down during a mass shooting at Kirkwood City Council.

On February 7, 2008, Thornton parked his vehicle on West Madison Avenue near the city hall in Kirkwood, Missouri, and walked through a parking lot where he came face-to-face with Police Sgt. William Biggs.

Although Biggs was on duty at the time, he was on his way to pick up dinner — but he never made it.

Thornton, 52, shot Biggs with a Smith & Wesson Model 29 .44 Magnum revolver and took his gun.

Minutes before Biggs died from his injuries, he used his radio to call for backup. 

With two guns in his hands, Thornton entered Kirkwood City Hall where at least 30 people convened for a public meeting and opened fire, killing five people and injuring two others.

When two police officers arrived at Kirkwood City Hall, Thornton hid behind a desk inside the chamber and opened fire.

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Police returned fire and struck him two times. Thornton died at the scene.

Apparently, Thornton had a vendetta against Kirkwood City Hall after receiving 150 tickets over a seven-year period.

Thornton owned an asphalt business, and he was accused of improperly parking his trucks and construction equipment outside his home and working without a city permit.

He claimed the city was lying and discriminating against him, and he began protesting his innocence.

A month before the shooting, he was disruptive at a council meeting and used foul language. An officer asked him to leave, but he sat on the floor and refused.

The officer threatened to use Mace before escorting him out of the building in handcuffs.

Afterward, Thornton sued the city, but he lost just 10 days before the massacre occurred.

He left behind a suicide note that said: “The truth will win out in the end.”

The other victims of the Kirkwood City Council shooting were identified as council members Michael H.T. Lynch and Connie Karr, Officer Tom Ballman, and Public Works Director Kenneth Yost. Mayor Mike Swoboda, who was injured in the shooting, died seven months later.

20/20 on ID Presents: Homicide — City Hall Massacre, airs at 11pm on Investigation Discovery.

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