Criminal Justice

Ark. Democratic Party Chair is Murdered

The chairman of the Arkansas Democratic Party reportedly died today, hours after he was shot at party headquarters.

The nearby state Capitol was locked down for an hour after the shooting, until lawmakers received word that the alleged gunman was not at large, reports the Associated Press. At that point, party chairman Bill Gwatney, 49, was critically wounded, but he has since died, according to CNN.

Police say the gunman, 51, was shot and killed after a 30-mile chase, but have not released his name, the AP article says. It isn’t clear whether he shot himself or was killed by authorities.

Gwatney, who owned several automobile dealerships in the Little Rock area, had served 10 years in the state senate. He was shot around noon today, after an unknown man entered his office at party headquarters and asked to speak to him. Gwatney’s secretary tried to prevent the man from going into Gwatney’s office, and ran for help after he was attacked, AP says.

House Majority Leader Steve Harrelson said he couldn’t think of anyone who would have wanted to hurt Gwatney. “You never think of something like this happening here in Arkansas,” he said.

Additional coverage:

New York Times: “Gunman Kills Arkansas Democratic Party Chairman”

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