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Man Stabs Lectern at Riverside Meeting

The City Council, which survived a shooting in 1998, appears rattled by the speaker's act.

October 22, 2003|Seema Mehta | Times Staff Writer

Police arrested a man who pulled out a pocketknife when he appeared before the Riverside City Council on Tuesday night and stabbed the speaker's lectern to illustrate what he considered lax security at City Hall.

The incident appeared to unnerve council members, some of whom were wounded five years ago this month when a gunman walked into City Hall and opened fire. Seven people were injured in that shooting.

Speaking to the council about 7 p.m. during the public comment period, the man identified himself as Thomas Kenny of Riverside, which police later confirmed. Kenny, 48, accused the council of wasting money on things such as a fountain at City Hall, new technology for police cars and shrubbery at the convention center.

Then, saying the city was also wasting money on security at City Hall, he pulled out the pocketknife, waved it in the air and stabbed the lectern. He walked out of the chamber, closely followed by two police officers, who then pulled him aside, confiscated the knife, lectured him and later arrested him.

"I was trying to explain to him that this wasn't an appropriate thing to do," said Sgt. Cliff Mason. "I understand the point he was trying to get across, but it was inappropriate to display a knife like that."

Weapons are banned in City Hall, though pocketknives with blades shorter than 4 inches are allowed.

Lt. Chuck Griffitts, a watch commander at the police station where Kenny was taken, said it hadn't yet been decided whether to book or cite Kenny, or under what kinds of charges. Witnesses were to be interviewed today.

In October 1998, U.S. postal carrier Joseph Neale entered the council boardroom and began firing at council members with a 9 mm handgun. The injured -- all have recovered -- were Mayor Ron Loveridge, council members Chuck Beaty, Laura Pearson, Ameal Moore and Terri Thompson, and three police officers. Thompson is no longer on the council.

Neale reportedly was angry about the loss of his job as a part-time chess coach at a city recreation center. He was convicted of 12 counts of attempted murder and sentenced to more than 300 years in state prison.

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