Little Rock shooter may have had other targets - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Little Rock shooter may have had other targets

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - A Muslim convert accused of killing a soldier outside a recruiting center may have been considering other targets including Jewish and Christian sites - and had the firepower to carry out more attacks, according to law enforcement officials.

A joint FBI-Homeland Security intelligence assessment obtained by The Associated Press said officers found maps to Jewish organizations, a child care center, a Baptist church, a post office and military recruiting centers in the southeastern U.S. and New York and Philadelphia.

"Out of an abundance of caution, and in light of newly discovered information, the FBI cannot rule out additional subjects, targets, or the potential for inspired copycats who might act out in support of the original act," the intelligence assessment said.

Abdulhakim Muhammad, 23, of Little Rock, had targeted soldiers "because of what they had done to Muslims in the past," authorities said, saying he had said he wanted to "kill as many people in the Army as he could."

Muhammad was charged in state court Tuesday and pleaded not guilty to the shooting in a suburban Little Rock shopping center. FBI spokesman Richard Kolko said Wednesday that the bureau is also investigating, "which may result in additional federal charges and prosecution."

The FBI issued a statement saying Muhammad "conducted Internet searches related to different locations in several U.S. cities," and therefore the FBI and Homeland Security "provided an advisory message to our law enforcement partners on the situation.

"Out of an abundance of caution, the FBI contacted the appropriate individuals at those locations researched by Bledsoe. This message was intended for law enforcement; not the public and no further information will be released to the media at this time."

New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said investigators found Google Earth images of various places, including Times Square.

In documents released Tuesday, authorities said they recovered Molotov cocktails, three guns and ammunition from Muhammad's truck after the attack.

Pvt. William Long, 23, was killed and Pvt. Quinton I. Ezeagwula, 18, was wounded. Both completed basic training recently and had never seen combat. They volunteered to help attract others into military service, and were shot as they smoked cigarettes outside the recruiting center.

Muhammad, who faces one count of capital murder and 16 counts of committing a terrorist act, could face the death penalty. He is being held without bond.

After the attack, investigators searched a computer connected to Muhammad and found research into multiple sites in different states, according to the memo. Other cities were Atlanta, Little Rock, Louisville, Ky., and Memphis, Tenn.

Investigators are working to determine if anyone else knew about Muhammad's intentions.       Police stopped Muhammad moments after the shootings on a highway that would have taken him to Memphis, where he lived until he moved to Little Rock in the last couple of months.

Search warrant affidavits showed that police recovered weapons and caches of ammunition from Muhammad's truck and apartment. Officers confiscated an SKS assault rifle believed to be used in the shootings, a .22-caliber rifle with a laser sight, other firearms, Molotov cocktails, homemade silencers and compact disks with Arabic writing on them.

The truck also held a plastic tub filled with bottles of water, "canned food, boxed food, bagged food and a butane lighter" and, incongruously, a golf score card.

Once in custody, one affidavit said, Muhammad told officers what he had wanted to accomplish.

"Mr. Muhammad ... advised that his intent was to kill as many people in the Army as he could," according to Little Rock police Detective Robert A. Martin.

During the court proceeding Tuesday, Deputy Prosecutor Scott Duncan said Muhammad told investigators that "he would have killed more soldiers had they been in the parking lot."

Muhammad had been under investigation by an FBI-led terrorism task force since he returned to the United States from Yemen last year, a law enforcement official told The Associated Press. The official said Muhammad had been jailed in Yemen at some point for using a Somali passport. The official, who was not authorized to discuss the investigation, spoke on condition of anonymity.

Muhammad, formerly known as Carlos Bledsoe, had moved to Little Rock this spring as his father, Melvin Bledsoe of Memphis, expanded a tour bus company. Muhammad was one of the drivers and served clients from a Hilton hotel in Little Rock.

Bledsoe's Twin City Tours had an airport shuttle for hotel guests and would also take patrons on tours of Little Rock and North Little Rock, Hilton general manager Bob Martorana said Tuesday.

Martorana said he knew Muhammad, who went by Hakim, and regularly saw him behind the wheel of a motorcoach since April, when the company expanded to Little Rock.

Bledsoe appears to be pulling back to Memphis. "They ceased operations as of yesterday," Martorana said.

"We were just given the direction by Mr. Bledsoe to remove everything. We just put it aside," he said. Martorana said he expects Bledsoe to pick up his materials next week.

An answering service picked up calls to Bledsoe's Little Rock office. A man answering the phone at the Memphis office said Bledsoe wasn't there and wouldn't comment on the business.

Muhammad is in protective custody at the Pulaski County jail. Prosecutor Larry Jegley said it could be nine weeks before his office receives the case file from police. Defendants have to be charged in circuit court within 60 business days of their first court appearance.

John Soos, a civilian spokesman for the Oklahoma City Recruiting Battalion, said Ezeagwula will likely be transferred to a military hospital for continued treatment and the Army was willing to provide a military funeral for Long.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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