Police responding to a 911 call at a food processing plant in Moore, Oklahoma, on Thursday found a horrific scene – a female victim beheaded and another stabbed. The man they say is responsible had recently started trying to convert his fellow employees to Islam, according to police.
In a Friday afternoon press conference, Moore Police Sgt. Jeremy Lewis said that the FBI is assisting in the investigation into the suspect, Alton Nolen, 50, an employee of Vaughan Foods who was in the process of being terminated. After he was terminated, he assaulted Colleen Hufford, 54, with a knife.
“He did kill Colleen,” Lewis stated. “And did sever her head.”
The second victim in the attack was Traci Johnson, 43, whom Nolen assaulted with the same knife, according to Lewis. He was stopped by Mark Vaughan, the chief operating officer of Vaughan Foods and a reserve Oklahoma County Deputy, who shot him. Both Nolen and Johnson were transported to the hospital where both are in stable condition, he says.
“This was not going to stop if he didn’t stop it,” Lewis told the Associated Press of Vaughan’s actions. “It could have gotten a lot worse.”
“After conducting interviews with co-workers of Nolen, information was obtained that he recently started trying to convert some of his co-workers to the Muslim religion,” Lewis said at today’s press conference.
Saad Mohammad, a spokesman for the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City, told NewsOK that leaders of the society’s mosque are making efforts to protect Muslims from any retaliation for Nolen’s actions.
An investigation is continuing, with assistance by the FBI, into Nolen’s background, as well as into the details of the incident at Vaughn Foods.
A Vaughan spokeswoman told the Associated Press the company was “shocked and deeply saddened” by the attack.
• With reporting by LYNETTE RICE