A Year Later, Kirkwood Still Reeling From Attack That Left Seven Dead

Tomorrow night the City of Kirkwood will hold a vigil marking the one-year anniversary of the fatal shootings that claimed the lives of seven people. 

In the year since the massacre, Kirkwood has done its best to recover from the tragedy. It's patched and painted the bullet holes in City Hall, elected new council members and a mayor, and held community meetings to help make sense of the murders.

Cookie Thornton's family prays in their home the day after the shootings.
Cookie Thornton's family prays in their home the day after the shootings.
Still, there remains the question: What pushed gunman Charles "Cookie" Thornton over the edge? Sure, it's been well documented that Thornton had been angry with Kirkwood officials for years. But what prompted this otherwise peaceful man to act in violence?

I couldn't help asking myself that question again today after re-reading the piece I wrote last year about the massacre. I was one of the first reporters to interview Thornton's family the morning after the rampage. Later that day, I also sat in on a conversation in Meacham Park that boiled over into a heated conversation about race and injustice.

For whatever reason, my notes and recordings from that day became something of an Internet sensation -- garnering thousands of views and 100-plus comments on this blog.

Many of those commenting attempted to provide an explanation for Thornton's action. But then, as now, they're only guesses. Unfortunately, Cookie Thornton carried the one true answer to his grave.

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