Wed
Aug 13 2008
02:18 pm

UPDATE: CNN

The chairman of the Arkansas Democratic Party died Wednesday, hours after a shooting at the party's headquarters, according to a statement from former President Clinton and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.

UPDATE: AFP

WASHINGTON (AFP) — The chairman of the Democratic Party of Arkansas was shot and killed Wednesday by a gunman who opened fire at the party's state headquarters, according to ex-president Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary Clinton.

"We are deeply saddened by the news that Bill Gwatney has passed away," the Clintons, who lived for years in the Arkansas capital of Little Rock while Bill Clinton was governor, said in a joint statement.

FIRST REPORT: KTHV Little Rock

The Arkansas Democratic Party says the chairman, Bill Gwatney, is hospitalized in critical condition after shooting at party headquarters in downtown Little Rock. Little Rock police say a suspect in the shooting was shot after after a chase that ended near Sheridan in Grant County.

The shooter's motive is not known at this time. Another report says a man of similar description flashed a gun at the Arkansas Baptist Convention building in downtown Little Rock earlier.

You know, after the Knoxville church shooting and now this, I am actually starting to worry a little. It could be that Democrats and other conservative movement opposition are going to have to start taking all the hateful remarks and veiled threats more seriously, especially if they are directed at individuals and especially if there is any specificity.

UPDATE: AP reports that the suspected gunman has died after being wounded in a shootout with police following a pursuit.

UPDATE: MSNBC

Witnesses told NBC Little Rock affiliate the shooter talked with a few party employees at the headquarters, complaining that he had lost his job.

UPDATE: KTHV Little Rock

OfficeTHV's Charles Crowson reports that shortly after the shooting at the Democratic headquarters, a man fitting the description of the shooting suspect threatened workers at the Arkansas State Baptist Convention headquarters located several blocks away. Business manager Dan Jordan says a man with a gun told another manager that he'd just lost his job. Crowson reports the man pointed a gun at a security guard, but didn't fire.

(Another report says this incident occurred before the Dem HQ shooting.)

Topics:
Anonymous's picture

Yep, I hope it's not a

Yep, I hope it's not a southern issue. Church shootings, rebel flags,... If so, I think I'd rather face the earth quakes in California or hurricanes in South Florida.

LeftWingCracker's picture

No one knows just yet why this happened

But the investigation is ongoing. The Arkansas State Police repeatedly had to quell the rumor that the assailant had worked at one of Gwatney's LR-area car dealerships. So, we still know every little except that both Gwatney and the assailant are dead.

Sad, sad day in Arkansas...

Anonymously Nine's picture

Have you lost your mind?

You know, after the Knoxville church shooting and now this, I am actually starting to worry a little.

That is completely irresponsible. Why would you write that? What possible purpose can that serve?

You should take this post down. It is wrong to do that.

gonzone's picture

go away

Bite me.

"When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro."
Hunter S. Thompson

Justin's picture

Are you the blog police

Are you the blog police Mikey M? It must be a slow news day with Ragsdale stories. Get off of your high horse.

Anonymously Nine's picture

Yes...

The shooter's motive is not known at this time.

And that is exactly why no one should write, "You know, after the Knoxville church shooting and now this, I am actually starting to worry a little."

Why?

gonzone's picture

and?

Fair speculation says there's a reason he chose his target. Go away.

"When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro."
Hunter S. Thompson

Pam Strickland's picture

For me, reading and hearing

For me, reading and hearing about this is just as weird as the TVUUC shooting. I knew Bill Gwatney, not well, but well enough to view him as a decent man. And I'm seeing names and faces connected to the story that I know very well. The state police spokesman is a former TV reporter. The local NYT stringer is a PBS local reporter who strings for several national publications. His wife was my boss when I worked at UR-Little Rock's communications staff.

And I just finished reading the NYT, Arkansas Times and KTHV-TV, Channel 11 (Gannett affiliate) stories. No clear conclusion yet, but the shooter was determined to do something based on the three weapons found in his truck. He evaded at least four law enforcement agencies over a 50-mile chase. There is some hope that interviews with his family will shed some light on him and his motives.

Bill Gwatney lived for four hours. The doctors apparently couldn't get him stable enough to finish surgery.

He was a moderate, not so much a liberal. He didn't keep regular hours at the headquarters. Instead, he'd simply stopped by to sign some checks.

The headquarters is two blocks from the state Capitol, which went into lock down. It's near the Republican hdqtrs, which closed for the rest of the day. It's next door to a florist, where the admin asst went, and the Family Council, a conservative nonprofit, which is where the party executive director went seeking help.

It's just not right. As LWC said, it's a very, very sad day in Arkansas -- in America.
Pam Strickland

"We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be." ~Kurt Vonnegut

F-Stop's picture

Apparently this guy worked

Apparently this guy worked at a Target store, and was fired for writing graffiti on the wall.

R. Neal's picture

More updates....Police seek

More updates....

Police seek motive in killing of Ark. Democratic Party chief - On Deadline - USATODAY.com

“There was a large amount of ammunition found inside the house consistent with some of the weapons the suspect had down in Grant County,” Sgt. Greg Coney, a spokesman for the sheriff's department, tells the paper.

Police See No Link Between Gwatney, Shooter|Channel 7 News

No one knows why. Police say there are no signs that Gwatney and Johnson knew each other.

Heath says Johnson had worked in the previous days without incident, and that he had been a good employee at the store about 45 miles from his home.

Wednesday morning, he had written on the wall: "This hall is too ... narrow" and "Target is run by dumb jocks and sorority ...."

UPDATED: Motive Elusive As Investigation into Gwatney Shooting Continues - ArkansasBusiness.com

Conway police called Johnson's departure a termination but Heath said the man left of his own accord. "When he left yesterday, he voluntarily left. We asked him 'What's going on? Do you want to talk about something? It was 'Let's talk.' It was not about termination," Heath said.

Arkansas News Bureau - State Democratic Party chairman shot, killed

Sharen Carter, a spokesman for the Conway Police Department, said Wednesday night police in that city, about 25 miles north of Little Rock, were called to a Target store before 8 a.m. about a disturbance involving an employee fired for writing graffiti on a wall. She identified the man as Johnson and said store employees had called police out of concern about his behavior.

Workers told police the man was "very agitated and shaking, and they feared for their safety," Carter said. The man had left the area by the time police officers arrived, she said.

Baptist Press - Gunman enters Baptist bldg. after killing - News with a Christian Perspective

Dan Jordan, business manager for the Arkansas convention, said, "A middle-aged white man in a white shirt entered our building at 525 W. Capitol with a gun. The operator recognized immediately there was a threat. We have a process in place where she called the building manager immediately to respond."

The gunman ran up a stairwell to the second floor of the Baptist building with a pistol in his hand, Jordan recounted. When Kirby Martin, the building manager, confronted him, the man cocked the gun and pointed it at Martin.

Martin asked what was wrong and the man said he had lost his job. Martin was able to flee the threat and the gunman went down another stairway and out the front door of the Baptist building. The man did not fire a shot while in the Baptist building.

"He left with a gun stuck in behind his back belt," Jordan said.

The building operator had called the police, who arrived soon after the man left the building.

StaceyDiamond's picture

copycat

Its sounds like a copy of Adkission. He got fired afrom Target and went to the Dem headquarters. While on the run he waved the gun at the Baptist Assoc. headquaters.

R. Neal's picture

More news: Gwatney Shooting:

More news:

Gwatney Shooting: Police Say Timothy Dale Johnson Had `Gwatney' Note - todaysthv.com | KTHV | Little Rock, AR

A search of Timothy Dale Johnson's home turned up 14 guns, a bottle of anti-depressants, his last will and testament and a Post-It note that bore his victim's last name and a telephone number, sheriff's documents show.

The article also says they found "two sets of keys for vehicles from Gwatney car lots." Still no known motive, but it appears he was targeting Gwatney for whatever reason.

R. Neal's picture

Holy shit, check out the

Holy shit, check out the arsenal:

Arkansas Times

The list of items seized: A personal computer, a bottle of prescription anti-depressants (Effexor XR); a "sticky note" bearing the word "Gwatney'" and a telephone number (LR police said they didn't know if it was Gwatney's phone number); a Smith and Wesson gun box; unspecified paperwork; a Browning .22-caliber pistol; a Thompson 50-caliber rifle; a CZ rifle; a Remington model 700 rifle; a Benelli double-barrel shotgun; a CZ rifle; a 12-gauge shotgun; a CZ M-1 carbine; a U.S. M-1 rifle; a Mohawk 600/308 rifle; a CZ 20-gauge shotgun; a Winchester .22-rifle; a Remington .25/06 muzzle loader; a New Englander muzzle loader; two sets of keys with a Gwatney dealership emblem and the last will and testament of Timothy Johnson.

The article refers to him as a "loner with a passion for guns." No shit.

Oh, and also: "A trusted source said Johnson had received treatment in the past at a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center in Searcy."

gonzone's picture

Damn

That's quite a collection.

What I want to know about goes to the why.
For example, what magazines and books did he have?
Any Hannity or Coulter trash for books?
What station was his radios and TVs turned to?
Were they FAUX News and Rush hate radio?
What did his treatment counselors say about his personality and ideological leanings?
Did he think those evil Dems were going to take all his guns away as the GOP smear campaign lies have been saying for many years?

"When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro."
Hunter S. Thompson

RayCapps's picture

Also waiting for the why...

if it can ever be determined. This time around I'm keeping my mouth entirely shut about the bigger issue until something really is known.

On this tangential subject, though, one thing in his arsenal list did catch my attention. I'm not exactly what you'd call a gun expert, but I used to go out with some friends and cousins and shoot clays on a fairly regular basis so I learned something about shotguns. A Benelli double barrel is a very high end piece of weaponry. Depending on the exact model and options, you're looking at $1500 to well over $2000 for one of those. Unless he inherited the thing or grabbed it at a pawn shop, it'd take a Target Store hourly wage guy a heck of a long time and a lot of doing without to save up that kind of scratch. If the other weapons in his collection are in that same kind of exclusive territory, his whole life would have had to have revolved around the acquisition of firearms to amass it.

R. Neal's picture

Noticed that too. According

Noticed that too. According to reports, he was living in his deceased parents' house. Maybe it was an heirloom, his father's, etc. I'm guessing all the CZ and military style weapons were his, though. Hunters and sportsmen aren't usually obsessed with stockpiling those kinds of weapons.

R. Neal's picture

There was no mention of hate

There was no mention of hate literature or any other stuff like that, and I believe police specifically said they didn't find any. Could just be a bad car deal. Whatever the case, this guy was seriously deranged. So much for background checks and affidavit forms for firearms purchases.

Pam Strickland's picture

More info on Johnson

The Arkansas Times reports that Johnson was taking computer classes at Arkansas State University-Beebe. Quotes from e-mail that one of his fellow students sent to the Times:

"I would always remember going to class and I would see that he had a Bill Clinton anti-campaign sticker [on his car] that says I don't miss Bill. [No such bumper sticker was on the pickup he crashed in a police chase, however.] "He would surf the internet and he would see that a Democrat had died and he would laugh about it."

"I would like to have a motive. That is why I contacted you in the e-mail because no one has shown that he went to school at ASU Beebe, and he spends a lot of time there. Maybe he talked to somebody, or maybe somebody could get in his mind that might come forward and talk about it," Tucker explains.

Someone was saying that he couldn't afford the weapons on a Target clerk's salary. But note he had been employed at Target less than two years (I can't find the exact time frame right now), so my guess is that his work prior to that time was higher paying. Sounds like he may have been laid off or something because he was taking computer classes.

Some other random thoughts that I've had the last couple of days:

*Searcy, where Johnson lived, is the hometown of the current Arkansas governor. Gwatney was either the campaign finance chair or the campaign chair of Beebe's gubernatorial race.

*The alcohol treatment center in Searcy that Johnson reportedly was a patient in is named after Wilber Mills.

*This guy spent a lot of time in his car. Searcy, Beebe, Conway. Plus, he got his hair cut in Cabot. Also, the above link indicates that he drove from Conway to Cabot on Wednesday before heading to LR.

That's all for right now.

Pam Strickland

"We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be." ~Kurt Vonnegut

R. Neal's picture

Arkansas Blog: Police:

Arkansas Blog: Police: Gwatney killer a stalker

Police: Gwatney killer a stalker
Searcy police have provided Arkansas Times with two police reports that indicate Timothy Dale Johnson, suspected of slaying Democratic Party chair Bill Gwatney, harassed a Searcy woman in 2004, 2005 and 2006.

And...

Johnson Goes To Hair Salon Before Shooting - todaysthv.com | KTHV | Little Rock, AR

The Villa Hair Salon & Day Spa in Cabot confirms for Today's THV that Johnson came into the business 30 to 45 minutes before the shooting.

He asked if his female stylist had given birth to her baby. After stylist Brooke Robertson told him she hadn't, he left the salon without getting his hair cut. Robertson says Johnson has been a regular customer there for the last year.

She says his demeanor was no different than any other time that he came in. He says he was very quiet and timid.

Robertson explains, "It is strange. Why he would come in here before doing something tragic like that? Why stop in the salon and ask if one our stylists had had their child before you go and do something like that?"

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