Arkansas Democratic Party Chairman Dead After Shooting Inside Party Headquarters by FOXNews.com Wednesday, August 13, 2008 The chairman of the Arkansas Democratic Party was shot and killed Wednesday after a man opened fire inside party headquarters in Little Rock. Chairman Bill Gwatney was shot “multiple times” in the upper body by a man who later escaped in a blue truck, Little Rock Police Lt. Terry Hastings said in a news conference. Gwatney died four hours later at University Hospital. Police shot and killed the suspect, so far identified only as a 51-year-old man, after a 30-mile car chase. Police said they don’t yet know the motive for the shooting. Hastings told reporters the gunman barged into the party’s office and asked to speak with Gwatney. When the secretary told him he could not meet with the chairman, the man went into Gwatney’s office and shot him several times with a handgun. There were no “heated words” exchanged between Gwatney and the suspect in the moments before the shooting, Hastings said. Staff members did not recognize the man. “There was no argument,” Hastings said. “We don’t have any indication that he knew chairman Gwatney.” After the shooting, the suspect left the party’s headquarters and entered the Arkansas Baptist Convention, where he was confronted by an employee before getting into a 2000 Dodge Dakota pickup truck, Hastings said. Arkansas state troopers then pursued the suspect for 30 miles before he was fatally shot by police. Gwatney, who was 49 and owner of three car dealerships, was elected chairman of the state party in March 2007. He served 10 years in the Arkansas state Senate and was the finance chairman for Mike Beebe’s successful 2006 gubernatorial bid. He also was a national superdelegate who had endorsed Hillary Clinton for president, according to the Web site Sourcewatch.org. “We are deeply saddened by the news that Bill Gwatney has passed away,” Hillary and Bill Clinton said in a joint statement issued Wednesday. “His leadership and commitment to Arkansas and this country have always inspired us and those who had the opportunity to know him. Our prayers are with his family during this time.” Former President Clinton is a former Democratic governor of Arkansas. Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama also expressed his condolences. “I was shocked and saddened to hear about the tragedy in Arkansas,” Obama said in a written statement. “We’re all grateful for the quick action of law enforcement and quick thinking by Chairman Gwatneys staff, and Michelle and I are keeping him and his family in our prayers.” Gwatney also earned a reputation for being an outspoken critic of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a Republican, coining the phrase, “Pinning Huckabee down on an issue is like nailing Jello to the wall.” Huckabee reacted to news of the shooting Wednesday by releasing the following statement: “The senseless shooting at Democratic Party Headquarters in Little Rock today is a shocking and sobering reminder of just how depraved our world has become. All of our thoughts and prayers turn toward Bill Gwatney and his family today, while we await details on what happened and why.” The Associated Press contributed to this report.