- The Washington Times - Monday, June 1, 2009

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.

Both men were from nearby hometowns and volunteered to work at the recruiting center to attract other locals to the military. “They can show the example, ‘Here’s where I was, and here is where I am,’” Artis 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.

The accused shooter’s father, Melvin Bledsoe of Memphis, Tenn., 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 10:30 a.m. Long fell onto the sidewalk outside the center while Ezeagwula was able to crawl toward its door.

Police said Muhammad’s vehicle was stopped on Interstate 630 a short time later and the suspect was taken into custody. Police Lt. Terry Hastings said the suspect surrendered without incident. Police found an assault rifle and other weapons in the vehicle.

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 hearing sirens outside.

“Nobody heard any gunshots,” Richardson said.

Steven Johnson, an 18-year-old recruit, was on his way to take a qualifying test when he found police cars at the center. By early afternoon, Johnson was waiting patiently outside the yellow police tape.

“I’m going to check and see if they’re all right,” he said.

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