No charges filed yet in shooting death of Washington Park mayor


by Afton Spriggs

Posted on April 1, 2010 at 6:46 AM

Updated Sunday, Nov 24 at 1:03 AM

4700 block of Caseyville Avenue

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Washington Park, Illinois (KMOV) -- Illinois State Police are investigating after the mayor of Washington Park, Illinois was found shot to death in his car Thursday morning.

Mayor John Thornton was found in the 4700 block of Caseyville Avenue where his vehicle crashed into a tree. He was taken to a local hospital where he was prounounced dead around 6:00 a.m.

According to Washington Park Detective Kim McAfee, Thornton was shot twice in the chest at close range.

McAfee says that Thornton was driving home after he got off work from a second job around 5:30 a.m. Thornton stopped to pick up someone who was walking down the street. McAfee says this was not uncommon for Thornton. He typically did a "patrol" of his city's streets and often stopped to helped people.

McAfee says that when that person got into Thornton's car, he shot Thornton twice in the chest at close range. The suspect then jumped out of the car and got into a red Chevrolet vehicle. The person driving what police are calling the get-away car and another person are being questioned. Authorities would not confirm if one is the shooter, but did say they do not believe there is any further threat to the community.

Authorities believe this was a robbery attempt.

The mayor was driving down 47th Street near Caseyville Road when the shooting occurred. After he was shot, Thornton's car veered off the road and then hit a tree.

Investigators say that the mayor's vehicle has an onboard computer system inside and they are hoping that system will help them learn what happened in the moments leading up to the shooting.

Thornton leaves behind a wife, six children and 10 grandchildren.