GRANITE CITY, Ill. (AP) — The owner of an Illinois storage lot is dismissing police claims that a raid of the business on the five-year anniversary of his brother's deadly rampage during a Missouri city council meeting was merely coincidence.
Investigators on Thursday seized what they say were three suspected stolen vehicles and a tractor-trailer from Paul Thornton's Scrap Solutions in Granite City, just northeast of St. Louis. Thornton, who has not been charged, said he can document that he owns the vehicles and that a towing company owns the semi rig.
The raid came a half decade since Thornton's brother, Charles 'Cookie' Thornton, 52, opened fire at Kirkwood City Hall, gunning down two police officers, two council members and the St. Louis suburb's public works director before being killed by police. Kirkwood's mayor, who was shot in the head during the gunfire, died months later.
Gary Brewer Sr., head of a regional auto-theft task force, said that officers executed a search warrant at the auto storage lot, said Thursday's seizures of the vehicles was a coincidence, insisting he wasn't aware of Paul Thornton's connection to his late brother. Brewer said the lot was used to dismantle stolen cars.
Paul Thornton, who was not at the lot when police arrived Thursday, questioned the timing, pressing that 'every police officer in the world knows when other police officers get killed.'
Before his 2008 rampage, Charles Thornton had a contentious relationship with Kirkwood city officials that dated back years. As the owner of a small contracting company, he was cited multiple times for violating municipal codes, and he was arrested twice in City Hall for disorderly conduct when he criticized officials during council meetings.