News & Election Videos

August 13, 2008

Arkansas Dem party chairman shot

From The Associated Press:

The chairman of the Arkansas Democratic Party was hospitalized in critical condition Wednesday after an incident at the party headquarters, a party executive said. A television station reported that three shots were fired and that a man escaped the area in a blue truck.

“There has been an incident at the party and chairman (Bill) Gwatney has been taken to the hospital,” said Bruce Sinclair, the director of the state Democratic Party. He did not say how Gwatney was injured.

UPDATE: The Arkansas Times is up with a more detailed account of the shooting.

State Democratic Party Chair Bill Gwatney was shot at State Democratic Party Headquarters on Capitol Avenue about 11:50 a.m. today, witnesses at the scene said. Police were not releasing the victim's identity, but it was supplied by several people on the scene.

There was no official report on his condition, but he was taken from the scene in an ambulance and a witness said the wound was serious. Police (shown at crime scene briefing shortly after the shooting) said later that he'd been shot three times in the upper body and was in critical condition.

The suspected shooter man had entered the office and asked to see the party chairman. He was led to an office and the shots were fired. The man ran out and drove off.

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The shooter was described in the phone call as a man in his 40s, with whitish hair and wearing khaki pants.

Police may have picked up the shooter's trail because he threatened someone with a gun nearby. Reports were that a man with a gun confronted a building manager in the Arkansas Baptist State Convention office building a few blocks east of Democratic headquarters and said he'd lost his job. He pointed the gun, but didn't shoot. He fled in a vehicle whose description was reported to police.

Gov. Mike Beebe was en route by plane to Northwest Arkansas when the shooting occurred. He got word and returned to Little Rock. He was with the Gwatney family at UAMS.

UPDATE 2: The man who shot Arkansas Democratic Party chairman Bill Gwatney has died, according to The Associated Press.