OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A man who was shot after he beheaded one woman and attacked another at an Oklahoma food processing plant from which he had just been fired has regained consciousness and has been interviewed by detectives, police said Saturday.
Alton Nolen, 30, remains hospitalized in stable condition following Thursday’s attack at the Vaughan Foods plant in the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore, Police Sgt. Jeremy Lewis said. He said Nolen will be charged with first-degree murder and assault and battery with a deadly weapon, and that he may also face federal charges.
“We’ve already interviewed him and charges will be filed on Monday,” Lewis said.
Lewis said Nolen was fired right before the attack, and that he then drove from the building that houses the company’s human resources department to its main distribution center.
Once inside, he attacked 54-year-old Colleen Hufford with a knife in the center’s administrative office area, eventually severing her head, according to police. Nolen then repeatedly stabbed 43-year-old Traci Johnson before Mark Vaughan, a reserve sheriff’s deputy and the company’s chief operating officer, shot him.
Johnson survived the attack and is also conscious, Lewis said, adding that she is listed in stable condition.
“She is talking. We have interviewed her,” Lewis said.
Although the investigation is ongoing, Lewis said police learned Nolen was discharged from Vaughan Foods for “numerous reasons” involving “personnel issues,” but that he didn’t know the specifics.
Police asked the FBI to help investigate Nolen after co-workers told investigators he had recently started trying to convert several employees to Islam. He said police asked the FBI to look into Lewis’ background because of the nature of the attack, which followed a series of high-profile videotaped beheadings by Islamic State militants.
Lewis said investigators learned Nolen had attended a Muslim mosque in the Oklahoma City area but that he did not know which one.
In a statement, FBI Special Agent in Charge James E. Finch said the motive for the attack had not been determined, but that there is no reason to believe there was a threat to anyone else.
“We don’t have any reason to believe there is any danger to the area,” Lewis said.
A law enforcement official familiar with the investigation told the AP that there was indication that Nolen was a Muslim convert and was trying to convert others to Islam. However, the officials said there is thus far no connection to terrorism and no evidence of any suspicious travelling Nolen might have done.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing, said Nolen had a Facebook page that was of potential interest to investigators, but that “there doesn’t appear to be any nexus to terrorism right now.” But the official also said investigators were still looking into Nolen’s background.
According to Oklahoma Department of Corrections records, Nolen served time in prison and is on probation for assault and battery of a police officer. He also was convicted of cocaine possession with the intent to distribute in 2011.
The records show that Nolen has what appear to be religious tattoos, including one referencing Jesus and one in Arabic that means “peace be with you.”