In Oklahoma, on Thursday at a food processing plant, a fired worker allegedly beheaded a co-worker. Alton Nolen, age 30, supposedly attacked and beheaded Colleen Hufford, age 54. He then went after Traci Johnson, age 43. However, he was stopped in his tracks by the CEO of the company who is also a reserve deputy sheriff. The man first confronted Nolen and then shot him twice.
However, questions behind the reason for Hufford’s beheading, especially why it occurred, are still waiting to be revealed. It is possible that some answers might come from Nolen himself. As of 7 p.m. EST on Friday evening, he was just beginning to come out of the sedation he had been in since he was shot. Law enforcement were waiting in hopes of starting to interview him as soon as he was lucid enough to know what was going on, explained Sergeant Jeremy Lewis of the Moore, Oklahoma Police Department.
What they do know is that Nolen had been fired and reportedly attacked soon after. He was also in prison until March of 2013 due to possession of a controlled substance, resisting law enforcement and escaping confinement. At the processing plant, he was attempting to convert his co-workers to Islam. However it is unknown if that is related to him allegedly attacking and beheading Hufford. The police sergeant stated there could have been other information about Nolen’s past that he was unable to talk about, which might help clarify the incident, and the FBI had been brought in to go deeper into Nolen’s background.
The Vaughan Foods processing plant appears like many other buildings from the outside. It is nondescript and basically unadorned. However, this past week, there was nothing ordinary about it. There were police cars all around the building and officers walking over the entire property. Several citizens watched from outside as they apparently were attempting to try and make sense of the horror that had happened inside.
Some of the drama was able to be hear from a 911 call released to the public on Friday. It began with a man barking out orders to shut doors before he spoke to the emergency dispatcher and explained that there was a person attacking someone else inside the building. It is believed that the violence started near the plant’s central entrance, but did not stop there. Another 911 call stated that the suspect moved through the front office, to a shipping office, then he went to a customer service office. He was suspected of using a knife and was believed to just randomly pick people to go after.
Oklahoma law enforcement stated that it did not appear Nolen was targeting anyone specifically. It seemed they just happened to be in his way when he came in. The assault’s end was also heard on the 911 call, when the caller’s voice was disturbed. He questioned the dispatcher about being able to hear what was going on in the background and then he mentioned gunshots when three rang out, according to the caller. There was no indication at the time that anyone other than Nolen was armed with anything. No one knew at that time about the CEO having the gun. They only realized that someone had come into where they worked, beheaded one woman and then attacked another.
Mark Vaughan, the CEO of Vaughan Foods had also been a reserve deputy with the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office since June of 2010. He did not hesitate to act after he learned there was a killer on the loose inside his company, declared Sheriff John Whetsel. Instead, he confronted and ended up shooting Nolen twice. The sheriff explained that Vaughan performed without any regard to himself or his own safety, Mark became a hero while doing the job he had been sworn to do, which was protecting others.
Killing someone by beheading raises a lot of questions. The idea that a man who had been attempting to convert other individuals to Islam and then beheads a person, is extremely alarming, and even more so when one thinks about what has been going on in the Middle East. ISIS has made a name for itself by using these sorts of tactics and then even recording the beheadings of American journalists along with a British aid worker. Along with this, they threaten to do even more, especially if the U.S. and its allies continue to launch airstrikes against the group in both Iraq and Syria. However it is not known if Nolen’s religion had a connection with what happened Thursday. The FBI and agents in Oklahoma may sooner or later discover a link of some kind from Nolen to others. If so, they will find if there was a connection with how Nolen believed and allegedly attacked and beheaded Hufford.
By Kimberly Ruble