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Kenneth TORNES

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

   
 
 
Classification: Spree killer
Characteristics: Parricide - Shooting rampage at the Jackson central fire station
Number of victims: 5 +
Date of murders: April 24, 1996
Date of arrest: Same day (wounded by police)
Date of birth: 1934
Victims profile: Glenda Washington Tornes, 42 (his estranged wife) / Captain Stan Adams, age 45; District Chief Dwight Craft, 48; Captain Merideth Moree, age 49; District Chief Rick Robbins, 47 (fire department supervisors)
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: Jackson, Mississippi, USA
Status: Sentenced to death on April 3, 1998. Died in prison on April 9, 2000
 
 

 
 

After killing his estranged wife, firefighter Kenneth Tornes headed to his firehouse, where he brushed past rank-and-file colleagues in blue shirts to hunt down supervisors in white.

Died in prison four years later from a blood clot.


Kenneth Tornes, a Jackson, Mississippi fire fighter and walking time-bomb, joked about rampaging through the firehouse killing "the chiefs".

On April 24, 1996, his fantasies became reality when, after gunning his wife at home, he went to the fire department to hunt "the bosses". Before leading police in a high-speed chase, Kenny, an eight-year fire department veteran, killed four supervisors in the fire station.

Police chased the fuming fire fighter from the downtown Jackson Fire Department to the parking lot of a suburban shopping center causing many wrecks on the way. There, after exchanging gunfire with the cops and wounding an officer, Ken was hit in the left eye. Last we heard of him Tornes was in serious but stable condition after they surgically removed the bullet from his eye.


Firefighter goes berserk, kills 5

Shooting rampage leaves 4 wounded, including gunman

The Phoenix Gazette

25 April 1996

After killing his estranged wife, firefighter Kenneth Tornes headed to his firehouse, where he brushed past rank-and-file colleagues in blue shirts to hunt down supervisors in white, police and witnesses said.

Armed with an assault rifle, Tornes went from office to office, killing four superiors and wounding two others Wednesday afternoon, police said. He then led police on a 10-mile chase that ended with a shootout at a shopping mall, in which he and an officer were wounded, police said.


Colleague hears SOS, find bodies

The Commercial Appeal

25 April 1996

When the shooting began, Jackson Fire Department arson investigator Dave Berry was inside the three-story downtown building that serves as firehouse and headquarters.

He heard distress calls on his radio from someone inside and ran to a second-floor conference room to find six colleagues bleeding. Only Capt. Ken Lewis, 50, appeared conscious.

''He said, 'Help me, I've been shot, I can't breathe well,' '' said Berry, who called for help and fired three shots at firefighter Kenneth Tornes's car.


Firefighter kills four in Jackson Station

Three others wounded before police shoot gunman - Authorities say estranged wife killed earlier

Sun Herald

25 April 1996

A firefighter with a semiautomatic weapon killed four department officials at the city's Central Fire Station on Wednesday before he was critically wounded in a shootout with police.

Police said Kenneth Tornes earlier killed his 42-year-old estranged wife, Glenda, at their southwest Jackson home. Coroner Robert Martin said she suffered a gunshot wound to the forehead and had been dead for several hours when her body was discovered.


Firefighter goes on a shooting rampage

By Steve Macko

EmergencyNet NEWS Service (ENNFAX)

Thursday, April 25, 1996

JACKSON, MISSISSIPPI (ENN) - Five people are dead and four others are wounded after a disgruntled firefighter went on a shooting rampage at the Jackson, Mississippi, central fire station on Wednesday afternoon. The gunman was identified as 32-year-old Firefighter Kenneth Tornes, a 9-year veteran of the Jackson Fire Department.

Tornes attacked all the fire department supervisors that he could find at the central fire station. He then led police on a 10 mile chase that ended in a shootout in a suburban Jackson shopping center parking lot.

Earlier in the day, Tornes reportedly shot and killed his 42-year-old wife at their home. The wife was believed shot point-blank in the forehead in the carport and Tornes dragged her body back into the house, where police found it.

While police were at the scene of Tornes' home, investigating the murder of his wife, Tornes went to the central fire station to attack supervisors who had given firefighters a hard time over the years. All of the dead and wounded victims at the fire station held the rank of captain or higher.

Tornes started his rampage on the second floor of the station located in downtown Jackson. He searched for anyone wearing a white shirt. He confronted one woman worker in a hallway and told her, "Lady, get back, I am going to blow this place up."

He intentionally avoided and did not harm any firefighters who wore a blue shirt. Tornes told one firefighter to take his arson dog and get out of the way. Jackson Deputy Fire Marshal J.L. Kelly said, "He picked his targets."

Shots were heard over the fire department's radio network. Fire Department Investigator Norman Presson said, "Apparently whoever was on duty keyed up the mike when the gunman came in." Presson said that he heard someone pleading to Tornes not to shoot. "Then I heard shots fired over the radio," Presson said.

Killed at the fire station were: Captain Stan Adams, age 45; District Chief Dwight Craft, 48; Captain Merideth Moree, age 49; District Chief Rick Robbins, 47. Wounded were: District Chief Jacob Bell, 48, who was reported to be in stable condition; and Captain Ken Lewis, age 50, who was in critical condition.

After shooting up the central fire station, Tornes fled and a police chase ensued. Several accidents were caused by the fleeing gunman, including one that involved an ambulance. The chase ended in the parking lot of the North Park Mall, located in suburban Ridgeland. A shootout with police ensued and Tornes was shot once in the left eye. He is reported to be in serious but stable condition at an area hospital.

Ridgeland Police Officer Elmo Gabbert, age 34, was shot in the hip by Tornes and is said to be in stable condition. When police searched Tornes' car they found a Mac-11, a Tec-9 and a .45-caliber handgun.

What motivated Tornes to kill his wife is not known. What is known is that he had serious problems with fire department superiors. Jackson Firefighter Tim Dukes said about Tornes, "He was a perfect gentleman except when you got him talking about the chiefs. He's been talking about this for years."

The president of the local firefighters union said that Tornes was "a time bomb waiting to go off." Another firefighter added, "I'm surprised it took so long."

Other co-workers said that Tornes was very upset about the long-running dispute between firefighters and superiors over reprimands for what were considered to be trivial matters.

Listening to firefighters complaints, there does appear to be a problem between Jackson Fire officers and the lower ranks. The local union president said, "They put the pressure on this man. He is a victim, too. When you brought up the administration, he would just blow up."


Police: Firefighter planned attack

Sun Herald

26 April 1996

Firefighter Kenneth Tornes carefully planned his day of killing, from the point-blank shooting of his wife at their home to the slaughter of his superiors at Central Fire Station, police said Thursday.

Investigators still had not determined a motive, but the shootings, which began shortly after 3 p.m. Wednesday, "appeared to be planned in advance,'' Police Chief Robert Johnson said at a news conference.


Mystified Jackson mourns firemen loss

The Commercial Appeal

26 April 1996

A day after this city's bloodiest mass murder in memory, drivers turned on headlights to mourn five people who died at the hands of a rampaging firefighter distraught over his marriage.

As support and sympathy poured in from Memphis and Southaven firefighters and others, Jackson police Thursday continued to piece together Kenneth Tornes's shooting spree that they say began with his wife's premeditated murder.

Police said Tornes faced four counts of capital murder for killing four on-duty firefighters.


Miss. firefighter linked to '94 deaths

The Commercial Appeal

27 April 1996

Jackson police on Friday said they believe that accused firehouse gunman Kenneth Tornes was involved in the 1994 murder of a teenager, her newborn son and a family friend.

Police would say only that they were working on information and evidence that would link Tornes to the Oct. 4, 1994, shootings of Victoria Minor, 18, her son Howard Minor and Clarence Harper Jr., 22.

Officials said the three were slain when a man left a car outside Victoria Minor's Jackson home and shot Harper to death.


Tornes is suspect in 1994 killings

The Commercial Appeal

28 April 1996

JACKSON - Police used ballistics test results to link the suspect in Wednesday's daylong act of mass violence to another mass killing in 1994.

Kenneth Tornes, accused in Wednesday's slayings of his wife and four Fire Department superiors, has become the suspect in the Oct. 4, 1994, killings of Victoria Minor, 18, her 2-week-old baby, Howard Minor and a friend, Clarence Harper, 22.

Investigators said tests matched a bullet recovered from one firefighter's body with one taken from Minor's body.


Movie had hold on suspect in slayings

Colleague: Tornes fixated on massacre

Sun Herald

29 April 1996

Kenneth Tornes, the veteran Jackson firefighter charged with capital murder in the shooting deaths of four of his superiors, was apparently mesmerized by a movie scene with eerie similarities.

In a scene at the beginning of the 1984 movie, "The Terminator,'' Arnold Schwarzenegger uses his automatic assault rifle to mow down dozens of uniformed officers in a deluge of fictional deaths.


Accused mass killer says he's sorry

Tornes tells TV he promises to 'pay in full'

Sun Herald

1 May 1996

The Jackson firefighter accused of the shooting deaths of five people last week says he's ``sorry for hurting my wife and my friends.''

Kenneth Tornes -- obviously in pain, a bandage covering a facial scar -- made the barely audible statement Monday in the hallway of the Jackson police department.


Firefighter to families: 'I'm sorry'

The Commercial Appeal

1 May 1996

The Jackson firefighter accused of the shooting deaths of five people last week says he's ''sorry for hurting my wife and my friends.''

Kenneth Tornes, crumpled in pain with a bandage covering a facial wound, made the barely audible statement Monday in the hallway of the Jackson police department.

''Tell their families I'm sorry and it will be paid in full when they come to court,'' the 32-year-old told a WLBT television reporter.


No bail for firefighter Tornes

Sun Herald

2 May 1996

Firefighter Kenneth Tornes was denied bond Wednesday on four charges of capital murder in the shooting deaths of four superior officers and one count of murder in the shooting death of his estranged wife.

Tornes, who has apologized for the shooting rampage, also is charged with two counts of aggravated assault for wounding two other ranking firefighters.


Tornes pled guilty to shooting

Sun Herald

3 May 1996

Kenneth Tornes, an ex-firefighter charged with shooting killing four fellow Jackson fire department workers, pleaded guilty Friday to related charges of wounding two Ridgeland police officers.

Tornes, 33, was charged with two counts of aggravated assault in an April 24, 1996, confrontation with Ridgeland police at a mall while fleeing Jackson lawmen.


Tornes sentenced to 45 years for shooting

Sun Herald

8 May 1996

Former Jackson firefighter Kenneth Tornes, who still faces the most serious charges for a bloody fire station rampage, was sentenced to 45 years in prison Wednesday for shooting at two police officers.

Tornes avoided the first of his four scheduled trials related to the shooting spree that left five people dead when he pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated assault Friday in Madison County Circuit Court.


Fireman gets life for killing wife

The Commercial Appeal

20 August 1997

A former Jackson firefighter was sentenced to life in prison Tuesday after admitting to the April 24, 1996, killing of his estranged wife during a shooting spree that also left four co-workers dead.

Kenneth Tornes entered the plea shortly before jury selection was to resume for his murder trial in the killing of Glenda Washington Tornes at the couple's Jackson home.

The case had been moved to Bay St. Louis from Jackson because of pretrial publicity. Jury selection had started Monday.


Firefighter gets death penalty

Sun Herald

4 April 1998

Former Jackson firefighter Kenneth Tornes asked for forgiveness Friday after a jury sentenced him to death for killing two district fire chiefs in an April 1996 shooting rampage.

After hearing four days of testimony about the day Tornes killed his wife and then opened fire on a meeting of his superiors, a circuit court jury deliberated less than three hours Friday before reaching the decision.


Ex-firefighter, convicted in '96 killings, found dead in prison

The Commercial Appeal

10 April 2000

A Jackson firefighter sentenced to death for the April 1996 murders of four of his co-workers and his estranged wife, died early Sunday in prison of natural causes.

A state Department of Corrections spokesman said Kenneth Tornes, 36, formerly of Jackson, was found dead in a room of the 56-bed hospital unit at the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman, by a medical staffer.


Blood clot cause of killer's death

The Commercial Appeal

11 April 2000

A blood clot killed Mississippi death row inmate Kenneth Tornes, the former Jackson firefighter who gunned down four of his co-workers and his estranged wife in 1996.

Tornes, 36, was found dead Sunday in his room at the Mississippi State Penitentiary's hospital unit. Prison system officials said Tornes had been admitted to the unit at the Parchman prison Saturday.

 

 

 
 
 
 
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