The victims of the shootings at Kirkwood City Hall Thursday night were identified Friday as Kirkwood City Council members Connie Karr and Michael H.T. Lynch, Kirkwood Public Works Director Kenneth Yost, and Kirkwood Police Officer Tom Ballman and Sgt. William Biggs. Mayor Mike Swoboda and Suburban Journals reporter Todd Smith were injured. The gunman, Charles Lee Thornton, also was killed.
Connie Karr, 51, intended to run for mayor and was in her second term as a Kirkwood council member. School Board member Ben Clark recalled her as a very energetic person who was committed to Kirkwood. "She was always savvy, full of ideas," he said.
She had worked as a media-relations specialist for Maritz Inc. and previously as a reporter for the St. Louis Globe-Democrat and the Moline Daily Dispatch in Illinois.
Karr was married to Kevin Karr and had a daughter, Lauren, 15. She previously was married to Post-Dispatch sportswriter Rick Hummel, who is Lauren's father.
Michael H.T. Lynch, 63, had been a Kirkwood city councilman since 2000. In the St. Louis Post-Dispatch Voter's Guide in 2004, he said he was a managing principal of Facilities Solutions Inc. and had served for more than two decades as a citizen soldier in the Army Reserve, culminating as the executive officer of a battalion-level unit.
Kenneth Yost, 61, of the St. Louis suburb of Ballwin, served as the Kirkwood public works director. He was formerly Kirkwood's city engineer. Late last year he celebrated his 40th wedding anniversary with his wife, Cathy, with a cruise to Alaska, according to a write-up in an area Chamber of Commerce newsletter.
Kirkwood Police Officer Tom Ballman, 37, was the department's spokesman and community service officer.
Kirkwood residents outside a victims' prayer service Friday recalled Ballman's work to foster strong relations between the police department and the community. He was known to many in the media for his work relaying information when two kidnapped boys, Shawn Hornbeck and Ben Ownby, were rescued from the Kirkwood apartment of Michael Devlin last year.
Sgt. William Biggs, 50, was remembered by a friend at the prayer service as someone who went into law enforcement work to try to give a break to people who didn't have many opportunities in life. A former cattle rancher in northern Colorado, Biggs returned to the St. Louis suburbs, his boyhood home, with his wife and two sons in the late 1980s. Last fall marked his 20th year with the Kirkwood Police Department.
Published in Belleville News-Democrat from Feb. 8 to Feb. 13, 2008