Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Arkansas Democratic Party chairman shot to death


Bill Gwatney, the chairman of the Arkansas Democratic Party, was shot in his office in Little Rock Wednesday morning and died a few hours later, police officials said.

The officials said a single gunman fired three shots at Mr. Gwatney, a former state legislator, in the party’s headquarters a few blocks from the state Capitol and then drove away.

Mr. Gwatney was rushed to the medical center of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, but a friend of the Gwatney family, who asked not to be identified, said doctors determined that his wounds were inoperable. He died several hours later, police officials confirmed.

The suspect, driving a Chevrolet pickup truck, was chased south for about 25 miles by police officers and was shot after he was stopped, said Lt. Terry Hastings of the Little Rock Police Department. The suspect was airlifted to a hospital and later died of his wounds.
As of this writing, not much is known about the suspected killer.

Various news reports identified the shooter as Tim Johnson, 50, of Searcy, but the police weren't confirming that and there were no indications of his possible motive.

Shortly after the shooting, police sources said they were working to confirm tentative information that the suspect was a former employee of a Gwatney car dealership. The Little Rock police said, however, at an afternoon news conference that the shooter, whom they did not identify, was NOT a Gwatney employee and, so far as they knew, never had been, contrary to some early reports.

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