A southeast Missouri man has been charged with first-degree murder after allegedly driving into a crowd of his relatives at a family cookout, killing a man and injuring five others, including three children.
Joseph Thornton, 25, of Sikeston, was also charged with armed criminal action, endangering the welfare of a child and five counts of first-degree assault, the Scott County prosecutor's office said Tuesday. Thornton was jailed on $100,000 bond. He did not yet have an attorney.
The crime happened Sunday afternoon at a home in Sikeston. The homeowner told police that Thornton, his cousin, had been asked to leave the gathering because he was “being obnoxious toward another guest,” according to a probable cause statement from police.
Thornton allegedly got into a 2001 Chevrolet Impala with his 3-year-old daughter in the back seat. According to witnesses, Thornton backed from the driveway into the street, squealed his tires and accelerated back into the driveway toward the home.
Several people who were in the driveway scattered, some grabbing children to push them out of the way, witnesses told police.
Keremie Johnson, 33, was killed when he became stuck under the Impala, police said.
One of the adult victims suffered broken bones in both legs, while the other adult had minor injuries. Details about the conditions of the children – two 3-year-olds and a 4-year-old – were not released. All three were flown to hospitals in St. Louis.
The car came to a stop only after hitting the home.
Police said Thornton has an extensive criminal record that included driving while intoxicated, resisting arrest, assault, domestic assault and robbery.