The killer's trail UPDATED | Arkansas Blog

Friday, August 15, 2008

The killer's trail UPDATED

Posted By on Fri, Aug 15, 2008 at 4:37 PM


Channel 11 has interviewed one of Timothy Dale Johnson's classmates at ASU-Beebe, where the man who killed Democratic Party chair Bill Gwatney had been taking computer courses.

He was odd, says fellow student Reggie Tucker. But you knew that.

It also would appear that Johnson, whose last vote was cast in the Republican presidential primary, didn't like Democrats, though the records show he participated in Democratic primaries a few times. Does that necessarily tell us anything about Gwatney's shooting? No. But ...

... Tucker says he and other classmates do recall Johnson being vocal about his views.

"I would always remember going to class and I would see that he had a Bill Clinton anti-campaign sticker [on his car] that says I don't miss Bill. [No such bumper sticker was on the pickup he crashed in a police chase, however.]  "He would surf the internet and he would see that a Democrat had died and he would laugh about it."

Possible clues, Tucker says, about why Johnson targeted Bill Gwatney, Arkansas Democratic party chairman

"I would like to have a motive. That is why I contacted you in the e-mail because no one has shown that he went to school at ASU Beebe, and he spends a lot of time there. Maybe he talked to somebody, or maybe somebody could get in his mind that might come forward and talk about it," Tucker explains.

ALSO ON TV: KARK reports that Johnson's family gave the Grant County sheriff a brief statement of regret and sympathy for the Gwatney family. The Johnson family plans no public service. I didn't see a mention of last night's prayer vigil for Gwatney in the morning paper, but here's KATV coverage. And this includes a reference to a vo-tech classmate of Johnson's years ago who remembers him as shy, but smart and not prone to violence.

Here's yet another odd step uncovered in the path that brought shooter Johnson to his victim:  less than an hour before coming to Little Rock and shooting Gwatney around midday Wednesday, Johnson was at a Cabot hair salon, inquiring after a woman who often cut his hair. This would have been not long after he walked off his job after a meeting with managers over angry graffiti Johnson had written on walls at a Conway Target, where he worked overnight as a stocker.

Employees of the Villa Hair Salon in Cabot confirmed that Johnson was the regular client of a female stylist at the salon. The stylist is currently on maternity leave. According to an employee there, Johnson came in Wednesday morning between 10:30 and 11: 15 a.m. and asked if his regular stylist had given birth to her baby. After being told that she hadn't, he left without getting his hair cut. Gwatney was shot in Democratic Party headquarters on Capitol Avenue about 11:45 a.m. Wednesday.

Asked why Johnson would choose to regularly get a trim in Cabot when he lived in Searcy and worked in Conway, the woman who answered the phone at Villa Salon said that Johnson was very quiet, and that he never said why he frequented the business.

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