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Last Updated: Friday, 8 February 2008, 05:19 GMT
Six die in attack on US council
Shooting scene in Missouri
The building in the suburb of Kirkwood was cordoned off
A gunman has opened fire on a council meeting in the US city of Kirkwood, Missouri, killing five people before being shot dead, authorities have said.

The gunman reportedly entered shouting "shoot the mayor" and killed two policemen and three others before police shot him.

The building in Kirkwood, a suburb of St Louis, has been cordoned off.

Around 30 people were at the council meeting. The mayor was reportedly shot and wounded.

Missouri Governor Matt Blunt condemned the "senseless and horrific crime at an open government meeting".

"I join Missourians tonight in praying for the victims, their families and friends and everyone in the community of Kirkwood," he said.

Fought back

Police said one officer was killed outside City Hall and another inside.

I laid on my stomach waiting to get shot
Janet McNichols
St Louis Post-Dispatch

"He shot three other people who were attending the council meeting. They also are deceased," St Louis county police spokeswoman Tracy Panus said.

The St Louis Post-Dispatch named the gunman as Charles Lee Thornton and said he was "not a stranger to the council, where he was often a contentious presence".

The paper's correspondent, Janet McNichols, who was at the meeting, said: "He came from the back of the room. He kept [saying] something about, 'Shoot the mayor' and he just walked around shooting anybody he could."

She said she saw a police officer and an official shot in the head.

"After that, I was on my stomach under the chairs," Ms McNichols said. "I laid on my stomach waiting to get shot."

Ms McNichols said the gunman also fired at the city's attorney, who fought back by throwing chairs.

The gunman then went behind the council's desk and continued to fire, she reported.

Police later searched the gunman's house and questioned relatives but have not yet commented on any possible motive.

Kirkwood is about 20 miles (32km) south-west of central St Louis.

How events unfolded in the council chamber

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