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Arkansas Democratic party chairman assassinated by gunman

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Bill Gwatney, chairman of the Democratic Party of Arkansas, died this afternoon at 3:59 pm CDT (UTC-5) after having been shot earlier this morning.

Bill Gwatney
Image: Democratic Party of Arkansas.

"He [the gunman] came in and went into this office and started shooting," said police Lt. Terry Hastings, speaking to reporters outside the party headquarters.

The suspect is Tim Johnson, a white male, described by Gwatney's secretary as wearing "khaki pants, white shirt, silver-gray hair, late 40s." He reportedly walked into the party headquarters facilities in Little Rock, Arkansas, conversed with the Chairman's secretary, refused her offer of bumper stickers, and then walked past her saying he had to see the Chairman.

After the shooting, Johnson got into his blue Chevrolet pickup truck and led police on a 25-mile chase. The end result was the shooting of the suspect, who was airlifted to a hospital and eventually died of his wounds.

According to The New York Times, Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton issued a joint statement saying, "We are stunned and shaken by today's shooting at the Arkansas Democratic Party where our good friend and fellow Democrat Bill Gwatney was critically wounded ... Bill is not only a strong chairman of Arkansas' Democratic Party, but he is also a cherished friend and confidante."

Gwatney was also a car dealership owner and former state senator.


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