Mayor John Thornton was raised in Washington Park and wanted to make the community a better place to live, according to the Washington Park police commissioner.
Henry Newell, who worked as a liaison between the chief of police and the mayor, said Mayor Thornton often took a hands-on approach to see what was happening in his community.
Newell believes Mayor Thornton was in the area of 47th and Caseyville early Thursday morning to check on the prep work for demolition of two vacant homes. Thornton had just finished an overnight shift at the Metro East Sanitary District before he was killed around 5:45 a.m.
"He was going to make sure that they got here and started the work," said Newell.
Newell says one of Thornton's missions was to remove derelict buildings in Washington Park and that the mayor expected public works crews to arrive by seven, Thursday morning.
East St. Louis Mayor Alvin Parks said Thornton often talked about ways to tackle crime and poverty in the neighboring communities of Washington Park and East St. Louis. Mayor Parks says Thornton often drove the area to look for missing street signs and other major maintenance issues.
Mayor Parks described Thornton as a hands-on public servant.
Investigators announced they are holding two persons of interest in the St. Clair County Jail. At a press conference Thursday afternoon, investigators declined to offer a motive for Thornton's murder. Earlier in the day, police at the crime scene said they believed Thornton may have been a victim of a robbery.
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