US worker beheads colleague after being sacked

A worker who had recently tried to convert colleagues to Islam beheaded one of them in a frenzied knife rampage after being fired from his job, US police said Friday.

AFP| Last Updated: Sep 27, 2014, 04:54 AM IST

A worker who had recently tried to convert colleagues to Islam beheaded one of them in a frenzied knife rampage after being fired from his job, US police said Friday.

The suspect, identified as 30-year-old Alton Nolen, attacked another colleague with the knife before being shot by the Oklahoma food distribution firm`s boss -- who was hailed a hero by police.

Nolen, who survived and was in hospital in a stable condition, appeared to have chosen his victims at random, police said of Thursday`s grisly incident, and there was no immediate indication of a link with terrorism.

"Nolen went to the parking lot, then drove his vehicle to the front of the business... he then entered the main entrance," said police spokesman Jeremy Lewis in the city of Moore.

"Nolen encountered and killed Colleen Hufford with a knife. During the attack, Nolen severed the victim`s head," he said in a statement.

The second, wounded colleague was rushed to hospital and was in a stable condition.

"After conducting interviews with Nolen`s co-workers, information was obtained that he recently started trying to convert several employees to the Muslim religion," the spokesman said.

Because of the nature of the crime local police called in the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), he added.

It comes after a series of beheadings of Western captives by jihadists in the Middle East and Algeria, but US officials have not confirmed any link to the Oklahoma case.

"It did appear random. He wasn`t targeting anyone. It appears they were just in his way as he came in," Lewis told a press conference, adding that the chief operating officer who shot Nolen -- also a reserve deputy sheriff -- was a "hero."

"This guy was definitely not going to stop, he didn`t stop until he was shot. We would have had a lot more victims," he said.

The FBI called the attack a "senseless tragedy."

"The motive is undetermined at this time," it said, but added: "There is no information currently in our possession to indicate there is any additional threat to the citizens of Oklahoma related to this incident."Oklahoma County Sheriff John Whetsel said he was "extremely proud" of Mark Vaughan, the hero boss of Vaughan Foods.

"I am convinced those actions saved the lives of several other employees," said Whetsel. 

"There is every reason to believe that the lives of untold others were saved who would have been targeted by the suspect if it hadn`t been for deputy Vaughan`s actions," he added.

A spokesman for the Islamic Council of Oklahoma said Muslims were "shocked, horrified and saddened."

Commenting on reports that Nolen had recently converted to Islam, spokeswoman Sheryl Siddiqui said: "He was not known to any of the leadership in Oklahoma mosques.

"We do not have any confirmation of his conversion either in prison or out in the community. Muslims are supporting law enforcement efforts to perform their due diligence and seek justice in this case."

The Washington DC-based Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) also said it was "horrified."