LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - A man with "political and religious motives" killed a soldier just out of basic training and wounded another Monday in a targeted attack on a military recruiting center, police said. The shootings were not believed to be part of a broader scheme.
The soldiers completed basic training within the past two weeks and were not regular recruiters, said Lt. Col. Thomas F. Artis of the Oklahoma City Recruiting Battalion, which oversees the Little Rock office.
William Long, 24, of Conway, died, and Quinton Ezeagwula, 18, of Jacksonville, was wounded and in stable condition, Police Chief Stuart Thomas said.
Police arrested Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad, 23, along a crosstown interstate moments after the shootings at the Army-Navy Career Center in a shopping center in west Little Rock.
Muhammad acted alone, the police chief said, and based on an interview with officers, the suspect "probably had political and religious motives for the attack." He lived in an apartment just 1.5 miles from the recruiting center. A search warrant had been obtained for the apartment.
Thomas said Muhammad, previously known as Carlos Bledsoe, would be charged with first-degree murder, plus 15 counts of committing a terroristic act. Thomas said those counts result from the gunfire occurring near other people.
Arkansas Democrat Gazette:
William Long, 23, of Conway, died in the attack on the Army-Navy Career Center in a west Little Rock shopping center, and Quinton Ezeagwula, 18, of Jacksonville, was wounded and in stable condition, Police Chief Stuart Thomas said.
Police arrested Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad, 23 of Little Rock, along a crosstown interstate moments later. Thomas said Muhammad, previously known as Carlos Bledsoe, would be charged with capital murder, plus 16 counts of committing a terroristic act.
A police report said Muhammad admitted that he “observed two uniformed U.S. soldiers standing in front of the recruiting office ... then drove in front of the army recruiting office and shot the victims.” It did not quote Muhammad directly.
“He saw them standing there and drove up and shot them,” Lt. Terry Hastings said in an interview said. “That’s what he said.”
Thomas said that, based on an interview officers conducted with Muhammad, the suspect “probably had political and religious motives for the attack” on the recruiting center about 1.5 miles from his apartment.
“Mr. Muhammad, previously known as Mr. Bledsoe, did convert to Islam sometime previously in his life. At this point it appears that he specifically targeted military personnel, but there doesn’t appear to be a wider conspiracy or, at this point in time, any indication that he’s a part of a larger group or a conspiracy to go further,” the chief said. “At this point, we believe that it’s associated with his disagreement over the military operations.”
Melvin Bledsoe of Memphis, Tenn., the accused shooter’s father, hung up on a reporter who called about his son’s arrest Monday night.
Witnesses told police that a man inside a black vehicle pulled up outside the recruiting center and opened fire about 10:19 a.m. Long fell onto the sidewalk outside the center while Ezeagwula was able to crawl toward its door.
Both men were in fatigues and had recently completed basic training. The two volunteered to work at the recruiting center to attract others to the military.
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Definition of Mujahid: Islamic holy warrior. One who engages in jihad.