Norman Rockwell Doesn’t Live Here Any More

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I’ve been getting requests to blog about the shootings in Kirkwood, MO which occurred last night. Until I heard a news report in the 2 p.m. hour(CST), I didn’t feel qualified to write. Now, I do. So here goes…

A gunman, disgruntled with city officials, walked into a Kirkwood City Council meeting last night around 7 and opened fire. First, the gunman shot an innocent police officer outside City Hall while the cop was walking to a nearby restaurant for dinner. He stole the officer’s gun and used it to slay four more people. In the end, two cops, three city council members and the gunman all laid dead. The mayor of Kirkwood sustained a gunshot wound and is in serious condition. A few more minor injuries also occurred.

Friends, until I relocated to Orlando, I lived in Kirkwood for the past five years. I’ve been to hundreds of places around the country and, still, Kirkwood is one of the most perfect locales I’ve ever been. For a tragedy to occur in this sleepy suburb is unthinkable. Well, -was- unthinkable.

Cookie Thornton, the gunman, declared war on the city council, specifically the mayor. Mayor Mike Swoboda is a good friend, a hell of a nice guy and never the kind of person you’d expect to be involved in a shooting.

So, why was Cookie mad? He’d received over 100 tickets for illegally parking his construction equipment and for work without permits. So, he committed a crime, got charged for the crime and got mad about getting charged. Real mature. But immaturity gave way to homicide…and Cookie Thornton believed he was driven to this decision. Emotional intelligence was not his strong suit.

Here’s where the really, really horrible stuff comes in…

Fox News just did an interview with Gerald Thornton, Cookie’s brother. He said things I wouldn’t have believed if I hadn’t heard ‘em with my own ears…and I’m still not sure a person can be this off the mark.

Gerald Thornton took up his brother’s cause, calling his conflicts with the city a “war.” Yes folks, no responsibility for his own actions, he was in a war. When the Fox News anchor said, “Didn’t your brother kill five innocent people in cold blood?” Gerald Thornton casually replied, “That’s your opinion.” They went back and forth and never once did Gerald Thornton admit his brother did anything wrong. Can you believe this?

I DO believe this…mainly because I heard Gerald and Cookie’s elderly mother interviewed by St. Louis news. In that interview she said, “They just kept on giving him tickets…they just kept pushing him.” And if “they” did? Does that justify murder? If someone pushes me, do I have the right(maybe even the obligation?) to start blasting innocent people? In the minds of the Thorntons, apparently, it does.

Never once did the mother or brother of the killer say, “I’m sorry” or show any remorse for the five innocent victims. In fact, Gerald Thornton was almost arrogant to the Fox News anchor saying, “I’m sorry you’re disappointed in my brother.” Disappointed? Disappointment comes with not getting a promotion. Or a failing grade. Or not getting picked first on the kick ball team. Disappointment is not a feeling anyone associates with murder…at least, no one who thinks like a rational, logical human being.

Murder in cold blood is never, ever justified. No one rational thinks it is. This is why the Thorntons are simply not on the same planet as anyone else. One kook with a gun? Sure, we know there are all kinds of freaks in the world who think violence is justified. But when the rest of the family refuses to take ownership of their brother/son’s tragic decision? Well, is it any wonder this nutjob did what he did?

The old adage, “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” certainly seems applicable. Doesn’t it? If a parent cannot have the humility to admit their child has wronged other people, it shows some type of lack of parenting skills. How can we expect Cookie or anyone like him to act in a rational way when, it seems, everything he’s ever known is to blame others, not accept responsibility and act however he sees fit?

Personal accountability is sorely lacking in this family. And it’s sad-it really is! After the interview with Gerald Thornton, my sadness at the loss of five lives is turned to disgust. Disgust for people like the Thorntons who feel they are above the law and take no personal accountability. For people who take the law into their own hands. And for people who feel unprovoked violence is an answer to anything. This was not war…it was, however, just as sad.

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