Posted on Thursday, August 14, 2008
Gov. Mike Beebe said in an e-mail statement that Arkansas lost a great son and that he lost a great friend when Bill Gwatney, chairman of the state Democratic Party, died from gunshot wounds Wednesday.
His Washington County colleagues agree.
“ I’m absolutely stunned, ” David Whitaker, chairman of the Washington County Democratic Party, said. “ Bill was just a super guy, and I just can’t imagine anyone wanting to do this to him. ”
According to an Associated Press story, a gunman entered the Arkansas Democratic Party headquarters a little before noon on Wednesday and asked to speak to Gwatney. The story stated that, after a short wait, the gunman left the waiting room, entered Gwatney’s office and shot the chairman three times.
According to the report, Gwatney was rushed to the hospital where he died at about 4 p. m.
Moments after the shooting, the man pointed a handgun at the building manager for the Arkansas State Baptist Convention, seven blocks east of the Democratic headquarters. Police chased the suspect into Grant County, south of Little Rock. Near Sheridan along U. S. 167, the suspect avoided spike strips set in the road, then drove into a ditch to avoid another roadblock. Police eventually rammed the truck, spinning it. A state police unit also rammed into the vehicle, and shots were fired by the Arkansas State Police. The AP also reported that the suspect was killed in a police shoot-out in Sheridan.
Beebe was en route to Springdale on a private jet when he heard about the shootings.
“ There is deep pain in Arkansas tonight because of the sheer number of people who knew, respected and loved Bill Gwatney. Along with thousands of other Arkansans, Ginger (Beebe ) and I are trying to come to terms with such a shocking and senseless attack. We ask all Arkansans to keep the Gwatney family in your thoughts and prayers, ” Beebe said in his statement.
John Logan Burrow, Democratic representative on the Washington County Election Commission, called the tragedy a “ terrible, terrible thing. ”
“ He has been an exemplary leader for the state Democratic party, ” Burrow said. “ He lead us into a whole new era of unity. ”
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The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.