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BREAKING 8-13-08 Ark. State Dem. Party Chmn. Bill Gwatney Dies from Shooting at Little Rock HQ
Wednesday, Aug 13, 2008 11:14am
LITTLE ROCK, AR From CNN & KTHV-TV (By: Tom Pace, Talk of the Town) BREAKING: POLITICS 5:15pm 8-13-08  Bill Gwatney, State Democratic Party Chairman has died from gunshot wounds he sufffered in a noon-hour attack by a lone gunman at the state party headquarters office in Little Rock, Ark. 

CNN reports that Gwatney died at 3:59pm Wednesday afternoon, after the gunman entered his Little Rock office and shot him several times in the upper body, Little Rock Police Lt. Terry Hastings said.  KARK & KTHV identified the shooter as 50 year old Timothy Dale Johnson, of Searcy, Arkansas.

Authorities confirmed the news shortly after former President Clinton and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton released a statement expressing their condolences.

"We are deeply saddened by the news that Bill Gwatney has passed away," the former governor and first lady of Arkansas said. "His leadership and commitment to Arkansas and this country have always inspired us and those who had the opportunity to know him."

The shooting suspect, a white male, also died Wednesday afternoon after a police chase ended in gunfire, Hastings said.

Authorities are working to confirm his identity, but Hastings said there was no indication that he was a former employee. He said police were investigating for possible motives, as well as why the suspect went into the Arkansas Baptist State Convention brandishing a gun.

The suspect walked into the downtown headquarters, near the state Capitol building, before noon.

The gunman said he was interested in volunteering, said Sam Higginbotham, a 17-year-old volunteer at the headquarters, The Associated Press reported.

"That was obviously a lie," Higginbotham said, the AP reported.

Little Rock police say a suspect in the shooting was shot after after a chase that ended near Sheridan in Grant County, according to KTHV-TV.

The KTHV story reports that a sales clerk at a flower shop across the street from the party headquarters said that around noon, Gwatney's secretary ran into the shop and asked someone to call 911. She said a man had come into the party headquarters and shot Gwatney several times.  

The suspect reportedly entered the party headquarters and asked to speak with Gwatney before firing three shots.

The 1300 block of West Capitol was shut down after the shooting, just blocks from the state capitol in downtown Little Rock.

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