MOORE, Okla. – Before the deadly attack at Vaughan Foods on Thursday, officials say the alleged suspect had a long, violent past.
Authorities say 30-year-old Alton Nolen is recovering from gunshot wounds following the brutal attack.
Sgt. Jeremy Lewis, with the Moore Police Department, says Nolen was fired from his job at the distribution center before the violence erupted.
Nolen is accused of stabbing 54-year-old Colleen Hufford multiple times and severing her head.
After that, officials say Nolen began attacking 43-year-old Traci Johnson.
At that point, Nolen was shot by Oklahoma County Reserve Deputy Sheriff Mark Vaughan, who used to own the business.
Now, investigators are looking into what sparked the deadly attack.
During a news conference on Thursday, Sgt. Lewis says the FBI has been called in to investigate Nolen’s background.
He says that after conducting interviews with co-workers, authorities learned Nolen was trying to “convert coworkers to the Muslim religion.”
An online search showed Nolen created a Facebook page, using the name Jah’Kemm Yisreal.
The page includes images of the alleged suspect praying, mixed with what appears to be armed radicals and even Osama Bin Ladin.
However, religious leaders in the state say investigators should look at Nolen’s past to find out how he could allegedly commit such terrible crimes.
“What this man did in Moore was barbaric, but it is not representative of what our faith teaches,” said Adam Soltani, the executive director of the Council on American Islamic Relations for Oklahoma. “We condemn any act of violence, especially those perpetrated in the name of our faith.”
A search of court records shows Nolen also has a criminal past, beginning with drug charges in 2006 and in 2009.
In 2010, Nolen sparked a manhunt after being pulled over near Langston and assaulting a state trooper.
He served two years in prison for that crime before being released early last year.
However, authorities say a bulk of his sentence had been suspended.
“It seems there are some other things that I hope investigators will look at as far as his termination and his criminal background. I mean, he obviously has a criminal past and what he did was a crime but our religion of Islam in no way, shape or form promotes violence, promotes crime and definitely does not promote the taking of innocent lives,” said Soltani.
Lt. Betsy Randolph, with the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, says she will never forget Nolen because she was injured while trying to arrest him.
“I was working Logan County trooper that night, working an evening shift and stopped this individual because he drove past me. I was on the shoulder of Hwy 33 and it looked like he had a fake paper tag, so I stopped him for that,” said Lt. Randolph. “In the course of our, he was in the car with me, I had him come back because he didn’t have a license or any insurance. And when I ran his information, he had two warrants out of Oklahoma County, one for possession of CDCs and intent to distribute. So, he was also driving on suspension. So, I was already going to take him to jail. I was able to get one handcuff on him before he assaulted me and broke my finger as he yanked the handcuffs out of my hand.”
In fact, Randolph’s injuries were more extensive than just a broken finger.
Her skin was actually ripped from her finger, exposing muscles and the bone.
At that point, Nolen ran into a wooded area along the highway.
“We called to have additional units come. We actually had a couple of helicopters, some dogs, TACT team, a lot of people out there that night. And 12 hours later, after our manhunt, we were able to catch him and take him back into custody,” she said.
Randolph says she was caught off guard by how quickly he became enraged.
“One minute we’re talking, the next he’s assaulting me,” she remembered. “I had one handcuff on his right wrist and he hit me in the chest, pushed me back and yanked the handcuff out of my hand. But one minute we’re talking and the next he’s assaulting me. It happened very quickly.”
Randolph says she wishes she would have taken extra precautions when dealing with him because he was a felon.
“He tried to bargain with me not to go to jail. He had a girlfriend and a baby with him, so I wasn’t as alert, as on guard, as I should have been. And I was a lot more nice than I probably should have been with him,” she said.
“I knew when I had my interaction with him in 2010 that he was a menace to society,” said Randolph. “He was allowed to get out early on my case and that’s a travesty of justice.”
Randolph says she had no idea the man who had assaulted her was the one involved in this beheading until NewsChannel 4 contacted her Friday morning.
“When Chuck called me this morning and told me that, I got goosebumps over all of my body,” Randolph said. “And I’ll admit, I’ve cried a few tears today too.”
“I praise God for taking care of me that night and watching over me. I just wish that we would have been able to prevent this from happening for this lady and her family and this other lady and her family in Moore,” she added.