City Councilman Considers Quitting After Man Kills Himself at Meeting

Councilman Marc Harris said citizens are blaming the council for a man's suicide during their Thursday meeting after they declined to rezone his property.

Ronald "Bo" Ward had asked the council to rezone his house as commercial to increase the property value. He said that would allow him to secure a loan to offset debt he incurred when he expanded his barber shop.

When the council voted 7-5 against Ward took out a handgun and shot himself in the head.

Harris, who voted against the rezoning, said the council made the right decision, but he has since been bombarded with irate e-mail from citizens blaming the council for Ward's death.

Harris read from one: "Just another example of government not giving a damn about the little guy."

"How can the council be blamed if he entered the chambers with a gun?" Harris asked.

Harris said the response from citizens makes him want to resign from the council.

"I can't bear the weight of this one," he said. "I can't pull anything out of me to make sitting on City Council worth it to me. I'm at the point where I want my life back."

Harris did not attend a group counseling session for council members and department heads on Friday, but many others did. Mayor Johnny Piper said those who attended were saddened by what happened, but not guilt-stricken over their votes.

"How you voted was not right or wrong," Piper said he told the council members. "You voted your conscience."