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GRANITE CITY • Police on Thursday seized what they said were stolen vehicles on a Granite City auto storage lot owned by Paul Thornton, the brother of Kirkwood gunman Charles “Cookie” Thornton.

The raid happened on the five-year anniversary of Cookie Thornton’s deadly shooting rampage at Kirkwood City Hall.

Gary L. Brewer Sr., director of the Metro East Auto Theft Task Force, said that officers executed a search warrant at the auto storage lot, Scrap Solutions at 5567 Dial Drive, and seized three stolen vehicles and a stolen semi-tractor trailer. He said the lot was used to dismantle stolen cars, and he expected Thornton to be criminally charged.

He said he wasn’t aware of the owner’s connection to Cookie Thornton and that the timing was a coincidence.

Two Kirkwood police officers, two council members and the city’s public works director were killed by Cookie Thornton, who was fatally shot by police. Mayor Mike Swoboda died seven months later from injuries suffered that night.

Paul Thornton said he has been targeted by police over the last several months and that he believes it’s no coincidence they raided his lot on Thursday.

“I guess they don’t read the news, or it was just a small thing or they didn’t even know,” he said. “Every police officer in the world knows when other police officers get killed.”

He said he will be able to provide documentation that he owns the vehicles that police seized and that a towing company owns the tractor trailer.

He added that there’s no reason to steal cars because they can be easily bought, and if he did steal a car, there’s no reason he would keep it around. “What sense does that make? If I’m going to steal a car, the value in the car is when you break it down, get the goodies off it, and scrap it,” Thornton said.

Thornton said he was taken aback by the heavy police presence at the storage lot. He wasn’t there when they arrived, but he watched TV footage. “Why the heavy artillery? Why not call me? I would have gone down there and opened up the place.”

Brewer said the Granite City facility was unlicensed by the county and the state. Thornton said he was told he didn’t need a license because it is a storage yard, not a scrap yard.

Valerie Schremp Hahn is a features writer for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.