LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – 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.
A police report based on an interview with the suspect says Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad, 23, told police he observed two soldiers in uniform, drove up to the recruiting center and started shooting.
“He saw them standing there and drove up and shot them,” Lt. Terry Hastings told the Associated Press. “That’s what he said.”
The two soldiers who were shot had 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, 23, of Conway, died, and Quinton Ezeagwula, 18, of Jacksonville, was wounded and in stable condition, Police Chief Stuart Thomas said.
Both men were from nearby hometowns and volunteered to work at the recruiting center to attract other locals to the military. Police arrested Muhammad, 23, along an interstate moments after the shootings at the Army-Navy Career Center in a shopping center in west Little Rock.
Muhammad had converted to Islam at some point in his life and interviews with police show he “probably had political and religious motives for the attack,” the police chief said.
Muhammad, previously known as Carlos Bledsoe, was not part of a larger group nor was his attack part of a larger conspiracy, Thomas said.
“We believe that it’s associated with his disagreement over the military operations,” the police chief said.
Thomas said Muhammad 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.