Arkansas Dem party chair shot and killed

The Arkansas Times blog is all over this sad story:

Arkansas State Democratic Party Chair Bill Gwatney was fatally wounded at State Democratic Party Headquarters on Capitol Avenue about 11:50 a.m. today.

The suspected shooter was also fatally wounded in a shootout with police after a 30-mile chase into adjoining Grant County, a Little Rock police spokesman said. Various police sources identified the shooter as Timothy Dale Johnson, 50, of Searcy, but the police weren’t officially confirming that and there were no indications of his possible motive. His next of kin were reached to make a positive identification and police were reluctant to release an ID that, though indicated by evidence he carried, might prove to be erroneous.

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 mentioned here earlier in the day.

Police were gathering information about Johnson, however, that indicated he’d exhibited erratic behavior in the past. For example, he reportedly made an irate visit to a dentist a year or so ago, but later returned to apologize.

Gwatney was taken from the scene in an ambulance and it was believed from the first that his condition was dire.   Police spokesman Terry Hastings (shown at crime scene briefing shortly after the shooting) said that he’d been shot three times in the upper body.  At 2 p.m., friends with the Gwatney family at the hospital told friends he was still in surgery. Friends say doctors were struggling to keep him stable because of the severity of the wounds.

HIs death was officially announced at a police news conference originally scheduled for 4 p.m. Police announced that Gwatney passed away at 3:59 after delaying the press conference by about half an hour.

My thoughts and prayers are with his family.

I’m behind in catching up on the news this evening, but Bob Owens and the USA Today On Deadline blog have been tracking the latest developments.  Owens writes that certain folks on the left are already blaming the shooting death on … you guessed it, the right.

I’m feeling a bit under the weather, so I’m going to call it a night.   See ya’ll tomorrow.

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