Chairman of Arkansas Democratic party shot dead

August 14th, 2008 - 12:26 pm ICT by ANI  

New York, Aug 14 (ANI): The chairman of the Arkansas Democratic party, Bill Gwatney, died hours after being shot by a gunman who burst into the state party headquarters in Little Rock.

Police said that 49-year-old Gwatney died four hours after the shooting near the state Capital on Wednesday.

The officials said a gunman fired several shots at Gwatney, a former state legislator, in the partys headquarters near the Capital. After a long car chase, the suspect was fatally wounded in a shootout with the police, the authorities said.

Bill Sadler, a spokesman for the Arkansas State Police, identified the suspect as Timothy D. Johnson, 50, of Searcy, Ark.

Gwatney was rushed to the medical center of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, but a family friend who asked not to be identified said doctors determined that he was too unstable to undergo surgery. He died several hours later, police officials confirmed.

We have no indications of motive at this time, Lt. Terry Hastings of the Little Rock police said.

Shortly before noon, the suspect entered the headquarters and asked to see Gwatney, the New York Times quoted Lieutenant Hastings, as saying.

He walked around an employee, walked in and did meet Gwatney, the lieutenant said. They introduced themselves. At that time, he pulled out a handgun and shot Chairman Gwatney several times. He then turned and left the business.

The police said the suspect next entered the Arkansas Baptist State Convention building several blocks away, where he pointed a gun at an employee but did not shoot.

The suspect then fled in a blue Dodge truck, beginning a chase that involved several law enforcement agencies and reached into the next county.

When officers immobilized the truck, the suspect got out and began shooting. The police returned fire wounding him. The suspect was flown to Baptist Health Medical Center, where he later died. Lieutenant Hastings said several weapons were recovered.

Gwatney, a supporter of Senator Hillary Rodham Clintons presidential bid, was to have been a super delegate at the Democratic National Convention this month. Hillary and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, issued a joint statement after the attack. (ANI)

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