Prosecutor likely to seek death penalty in Oklahoma beheading

FBI probes beheading suspect's past
FBI probes beheading suspect's past

    JUST WATCHED

    FBI probes beheading suspect's past

MUST WATCH

FBI probes beheading suspect's past 01:59

Story highlights

  • Governor says it's unclear whether attack was terrorism, job violence or both
  • Co-worker complained after Nolen spoke of not liking white people, official says
  • FBI involved because suspect "was saying Arabic terms" during attacks, official says
  • Alton Alexander Nolen, 30, is charged with murder, attempted murder, assault
Alton Alexander Nolen, 30, was charged Tuesday with first-degree murder and attempted murder in the beheading of a 54-year-old woman last week at his former workplace in Oklahoma and in the stabbing attack on another woman, said Cleveland County District Attorney Greg Mashburn.
Nolen was also charged with a third felony, assault with a deadly weapon, the prosecutor said. The attempted murder charge is also called assault and battery with a deadly weapon, Mashburn said.
"It is highly likely I will seek the death penalty in this case," he said, adding that he would first consult with the victim's family before making his decision.
Nolen, a recent convert to Islam, is accused of carrying out the attacks Thursday at a Vaughan Foods processing plant soon after he learned he'd lost his job there.
Nolen was trying "to get revenge on certain people he felt responsible" for his job loss, Mashburn said.
The large kitchen knife used in the attack came from Nolen's home, Mashburn said.
The FBI is also investigating the attack because Nolen "was saying Arabic terms in the attack," Mashburn said.
Alton Alexander Nolen is seen in an image taken from Facebook.
Nolen's Facebook page uses the name Jah'Keem Yisrael. The cover photo appears to be of fighters holding weapons. The postings include all-caps messages about Islam and quotations from the Quran.
Gov. Mary Fallin called the attack "an act of cowardice, brutality and barbarism."
The Oklahoma Department of Homeland Security is also investigating the incident.
"That investigation is still ongoing, and it is unclear at this time whether the crime was an act of terrorism, workplace violence or a gruesome combination of both," Fallin said in a statement.
The attack
Police said Nolen walked into the Vaughan Foods front office Thursday and attacked one of the first people he encountered, Colleen Hufford, 54. He severed her head with a knife and then attacked Traci Johnson, 43.
Johnson was one of three people Nolen was targeting, authorities said, and he wasn't able to reach the other two. Hufford was attacked despite not being one of the three intended targets, the prosecutor said.
Court papers said Nolen grabbed Hufford from behind and "immediately began cutting her across the throat with the large knife, with a back and forth sawing motion."
Nolen then grabbed Johnson and "cut her across the throat and left side of her face with the knife" in an attempt at a second beheading, according to a police affidavit.
Mashburn said that while Nolen was employed at the plant, he made statements "saying he didn't like white people," which prompted Johnson to file a complaint with the plant's human resources department.
The 'local hero'
Mark Vaughan, the company CEO and a reserve deputy with the Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office, confronted and twice shot Nolen, authorities said.
Vaughan arrived at the plant with a rifle and shot Nolen as he was charging with knife in hand, Mashburn said.
Nolen is now hospitalized, Mashburn said.
Fallin called Vaughan "a local hero ... whose whose response saved at least one life and possibly saved others."
"Mark's actions also serve as a reminder that the rights outlined in the Second Amendment, which protect the ability of law-abiding citizens to carry weapons, save lives," the governor added.
In unrelated incidents, Nolen was convicted of assault and battery on a police officer, escape from detention and possession of marijuana, all in January 2011, according to court papers filed by prosecutors.