Recruiter shot dead outside Army office
By William M. Welch, USA TODAY
June 1, 2009
A Muslim convert who said he was opposed to the U.S. military shot two soldiers outside an Arkansas recruiting station, killing one, police said Monday.
“This individual appears to have been upset with the military, the Army in particular, and that’s why he did what he did,” Little Rock Police Lt. Terry Hastings said in a phone interview.
“He has converted to (Islam) here in the past few years,” Hastings said. “We’re not completely clear on what he was upset about. He had never been in the military.
“He saw them standing there and drove up and shot them. That’s what he said.”
Hastings identified the man in custody as Carlos Bledsoe, 24, of Little Rock, who goes by the name of Abdul Hakim Mujahid Muhammad.
Police Chief Stuart Thomas said William Long, 24, of Conway was killed. Quinton Ezeagwula, 18, of Jacksonville was wounded and in stable condition, Thomas said.
The soldiers wore fatigues, had recently completed basic training and volunteered to help attract others to the military, Thomas said. He said the gunman targeted the military but was not believed to be part of a broader scheme.
Thomas said Muhammad would be charged with first-degree murder, plus 15 counts of committing a terroristic act. He said those counts result from the gunfire occurring near other people.
Hastings said the attacker pulled up in a car outside the Army-Navy recruiting office around 10:30 a.m. CT and fired at the soldiers outside.
According to the Associated Press, the vehicle was stopped on Interstate 630 a short time later, and the suspect was taken into custody. Police found an assault rifle in the vehicle.
The recruiting office is part of a shopping center at a commercialized intersection.
Jim Richardson, the manager at a drug store around the corner from the Army-Navy center, said people at the store didn’t realize anything was amiss until they heard sirens outside. “Nobody heard any gunshots,” Richardson said.
Lt. Col. Thomas Artis of the Oklahoma City Recruiting Battalion, which oversees the Little Rock office, said the victims were not regular recruiters. He said they were serving two weeks in the Little Rock office.
As part of the Hometown Recruiting Assistance Program, the soldiers were sent to “talk to friends, folks in the local area. They can show the example, ‘Here’s where I was, and here is where I am,’ ” Artis said.
Artis said neither of the soldiers had been deployed for combat.
Contributing: The Associated Press
Tim W. writes: