" Whoaaaaaa," I said.
" What is it? A wreck? A bad wreck?" she asked.
" No. There's too many cops. There's a forensic unit. Something bad happened."
She looked at her watch.
" Is it common for somebody to get shot at 12:30 in downtown Little Rock? Like down the street from the Capitol?"
This from a young woman who lives in a really dangerous city.
It is somewhat comforting-at least from a Chamber of Commerce perspective-that the murder of the Chairman of the Arkansas Democratic Party by a stranger who sought him out- seemed to be the typical senseless act of an unstable white loser who confused the ability to acquire firearms with self-esteem.
What is less clear is why Timothy Johnson, who died after foolishly engaging in a shoot-out with the Arkansas State Police after the crime, made Bill Gwatney the object of his rage. By all accounts, they didn't know each other. And yet, in his house, the police found a yellow sticky note with Gwatney's last name and telephone number on it. They also found two sets of keys that bore the logos of Gwatney Chevrolet.
His neighbors described him as loner who lived by himself in a house that his late parents owned in Searcy. He had a sister in Sheridan where the cops forced him off the road after a high speed chase. Supposedly she helped him with money. There are stories that he stalked a woman who worked in a local dentist's office. The investigators have his computer. The data on the hard drive should prove interesting.
Some things are not knowable. What we do know is that Timothy Johnson quit his job at the Target in Conway after he was accused of writing derogatory graffiti about women on the walls there. He drove to Little Rock and sought out a man he apparently didn't know and shot him dead in front of horrified onlookers.
And we also know that once again, an obviously disturbed person with access to weapons, decided to go out in a blaze of what he perceived to be glory after killing an innocent person.
What we don't know is why. And that it was the sort of crazy shit that shocked a woman from New Orleans.