MOORE, Okla. — An Oklahoma man who recently converted to Islam beheaded his former co-worker and stabbed another Thursday night before being shot by a company executive.
According to a spokesman for the Moore, Oklahoma Police Department, Alton Nolen, 30, “recently started trying to convert some of his co-workers to the Muslim religion” when he was fired from his job at Vaughan Foods. It is unknown if he was fired over his attempts to proselytize co-workers.
On Thursday night, Nolen drove to his former place of employment and entered the front office, where he encountered Colleen Huffort, 54, and began attacking her with a knife.
“He did kill Colleen and did sever her head,” police spokesperson Jeremy Lewis stated in a press release issued on Friday.
“Yes, she was beheaded,” he repeated to the Associated Press.
Nolen then began attacking co-worker Traci Johnson, 43, who caught the attention of others in the building with her screaming. One of those who heard Johnson’s cries for help was Chief Operating Officer Mark Vaughn, who also serves as an Oklahoma County reserve deputy. Being armed at the time, he shot Nolen, saving Johnson’s life.
“This was not going to stop if he didn’t stop it,” Lewis remarked. “It could have gotten a lot worse.”
Others in the building locked themselves in their offices and called 911. Police arrived on the scene minutes later.
Nolen and Johnson were both hospitalized, and are listed in stable condition. Police are waiting for Nolen to becoming conscious so that they can officially place him under arrest. Due to the nature of the crime, the incident may be considered more than workplace violence.
“Due to the manner of death and the initial statements of co-workers and other initial information, the Moore Police Department requested the assistance of the FBI in conducting a background investigation,” Lewis outlined.
Reports state that Nolen has a criminal past as he was convicted in 2011 on drug charges and for assaulting a police officer. He spent two years behind bars for his crimes before being released on probation. His Facebook page is also stated to contain “provocative” content that is Islamic in nature and critical of the United States, and he has a number of tattoos on his body, including one featuring the Arabic greeting “as-salaamu ataikum,” meaning “peace be upon you.”
“We are shocked and deeply saddened by the events,” said Vaughan Foods in a statement issued following the attack. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families and friends of the team member we lost and all those affected.”
“[W]e have reaffirmed that the United States is not and never will be at war with Islam. Islam teaches peace,” Barack Obama told the United Nations on Wednesday. “Muslims the world over aspire to live with dignity and a sense of justice.”