Monday, February 11, 2008

Kirkwood shootings... In memory of Tommy

You have probably heard of the shootings that took place in a City Council meeting in Kirkwood, MO (near St. Louis) last Thursday. According to this news story, before being shot to death by police, suspect Charles Lee Thornton shot and killed two policemen, Tom Ballman and William Biggs, as well as council members Michael H.T. Lynch and Connie Karr, and the Director of Public Works Kenneth Yost. Mayor Mike Swoboda was also hospitalized with gunshot wounds.

I was talking on the phone last night with my parents, who informed me that the first officer mentioned above, Tom Ballman, is the same "Tommy" Ballman who was a childhood friend of mine. His family attended my dad's church in south St. Louis County, and they lived in the same neighborhood as us. We weren't "best friends" or anything, but we did hang around the neighborhood with all the rest of the kids.

I have a very unique memory of Tommy, which I can be reminded of every time I look in the mirror or look at a photo of myself after the age of 7 or 8. Tommy was "practicing" karate on me one day, and he accidentally cut me in my upper left cheek! The two small cuts eventually healed, but yet two moles formed in their place. They've been with me ever since.

I left a memorial on "The Officer Down Memorial Page, Inc." and I couldn't help but shed some tears as I read all the things others had to say about him.


  1. Joel,

    I know of a guy who works about a block away from where the shooting took place, he is a fellow freedom travelor and also talked about this on his blog. What a small world we live in!

    In Freedom, Nicole!

  2. Yep indeed. I also had another friend who I met in preschool who used to live in Kirkwood, all those years ago, and I think his parents still live there. I can't help but think about what he and his family must be feeling right now.