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Military recruiter killed in Arkansas shooting

Monday, June 1, 2009 | 4:47 p.m. CDT; updated 5:19 p.m. CDT, Monday, June 1, 2009

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — A new soldier helping to attract others to the military was shot and killed outside an Army recruiting office Monday and a second soldier was wounded. Police arrested a suspect and confiscated an assault rifle.

A man inside a black vehicle pulled up outside the Army-Navy recruiting office in west Little Rock and opened fire about 10:30 a.m., police spokesman Lt. Terry Hastings said.

The two soldiers were outside the office when they were shot. They were taken to a hospital, where one died.

The vehicle was stopped on Interstate 630 a short time later, and the suspect was taken into custody. Hastings said the suspect surrendered without incident. Police said they found an assault rifle in the vehicle.

Hastings said he did not know whether the recruiting office was specifically targeted or randomly chosen. Authorities did not immediately identify the victims or the suspect.

The recruiting office is part of a shopping center at a intersection occupied by other businesses, as well. 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.

Lt. Col. Thomas F. Artis of the Oklahoma City Recruiting Battalion, which oversees the Little Rock office, said the victims had just completed basic training and 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.

Eight other people work in the Little Rock recruiting office, including one civilian, he said.

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

"I'm going to check and see if they're all right," he said.

 


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