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Sunday, April 21, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Widower Blames Security Firm for Shootings

CLAYTON, Mo. (CN) - A man whose wife was killed in the shooting spree at Kirkwood City Hall 2 years ago blames Whelan Security and its security guard, who he says left City Hall as the shooting began. Kevin Karr, whose wife, Connie, was shot to death that night, says the city had hired Whelan Security to protect people from just such an event.

Charles Thornton killed two police officers and three Kirkwood officials on Feb. 7, 2008 before police killed him.

Thornton had been issued more than 200 tickets, resulting in more than $200,000 in fines since 1999.

Karr says Thornton had exhibited erratic and hostile behavior toward Kirkwood officials in the years before the attack. He had been arrested repeatedly for disorderly conduct during City Hall meetings, was convicted of assaulting a Kirkwood official in 2002, had picketed the city attorney's and mayor's houses and had called officials jackasses repeatedly during council meetings.

Kevin Karr claims Whelan Security Officer Ronald Whitehead saw Thornton drive up to City Hall and went to tell Kirkwood police Officer Tom Ballman that Thornton was coming into the meeting. During that time, Karr says, Thornton fatally shot another Kirkwood officer in the City Hall parking lot and entered the building.

Karr said Whitehead then walked past Thornton, who was carrying a sign and two guns. But instead of doing anything to stop Thornton, Whitehead left the building and allowed Thornton to proceed into the council chambers, Karr says. There he killed Ballman, Connie Karr and several others.

Kevin Karr seeks damages for Whelan's failure to provide an adequate number of properly equipped security officers and Whitehead's alleged inaction. He is represented by C. John Pleban with Pleban & Petruska in St. Louis.

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