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Man unhappy with vote kills self at council meeting

Man unhappy with vote kills self at council meeting
CLARKSVILLE (AP ) — Witnesses say a business owner shot and killed himself during a City Council meeting Thursday night after members voted against his request to rezone his property.
Ronald “Bo” Ward, owner of Bo’s Barber Shop, had told the council — which approved first reading of the zone change last month — that his business would go under if he couldn’t get his home rezoned as commercial.
He said the rezoning would increase his property value, allowing him to secure a loan to offset debt he incurred when he expanded his shop.
After the 5-7 vote Thursday night, Ward stood and walked toward the council, then addressed them one last time.
“Ya’ll have put me under … I’m out of here,” he said before shooting himself in the head with a small handgun.
Fire rescue and police officials attending the meeting immediately ushered the audience of about 50 into the hallway, where several people were sobbing.
Councilman Bill Summers said Ward’s actions were unexpected.
“When a gun gets whipped out like that, someone is going to get shot, but I didn’t know who,” Summers said. “You could’ve been right next to him, and I don’t think you could have stopped that.”
At least one police officer is always on duty during council meetings, officials said. However, visitors are not required to go through a metal detector or any other screening.
Mayor Johnny Piper said Thursday’s council meeting would be the last held in that room.
“We’ll not have any more meetings up here in these council chambers,” he said. “We’ll use other facilities until we can make other arrangements.”
Information from: The Leaf-Chronicle, www.theleafchronicle.com
Published in The Messenger on 10.05.07

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