Bill Gwatney

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Bill Gwatney
Chair of the Arkansas Democratic Party
In office
2007 – August 13, 2008
Preceded by Jason Willett
Succeeded by David Pryor[1][2]
Member of the Arkansas Senate
from the 19th district
In office
1993 – January 13, 2003
Succeeded by Terry Smith
Personal details
Born William A. Gwatney
August 26, 1959
Died August 13, 2008(2008-08-13) (aged 48)
Little Rock, Arkansas
Political party Democratic
Children Christian and Chase

Bill Gwatney (August 26, 1959[3] – August 13, 2008) was an American politician who served as the State Chair of the Democratic Party of Arkansas.[4] Prior to being State Chair, he was a State Senator for ten years. He had also been the financial chair for Mike Beebe's run for Governor of Arkansas in 2006. He owned three car dealerships in Pulaski County.[3][5] Gwatney was selected as a superdelegate at the 2008 Democratic National Convention, but died before the convention. He was replaced by his widow Rebecca Rankin.


On August 13, 2008, Gwatney was killed by Timothy Dale Johnson,[6][7] who entered Democratic Party headquarters in Little Rock, Arkansas and shot Gwatney three times.[8] Gwatney was taken to a hospital, but died later that day.[9]

The gunman had said he wanted to speak with Gwatney about volunteering, but sidestepped his assistant when she said he was busy.[10] After the shooting, the gunman fled the scene in his truck and led police on a 30-mile (48 km) chase out of Little Rock.[10] Johnson was killed by police after a PIT maneuver forced him off the road into a field near Sheridan.[8][11] No motive was discovered, except Johnson quitting his job at a Target retail store earlier that day.[1][2]


The University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR) Athletic Department posthumously inducted Gwatney into their Hall of Fame during a ceremony prior to the tip-off of the men's basketball game vs. New Orleans on February 26, 2009.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Andrew DeMillo (2008-08-21). "Widow of slain Demo chairman to attend convention". The Associated Press. Retrieved 2008-08-25. [dead link]
  2. ^ a b Rob Moritz (2008-08-22). "Gwatney's widow to serve as superdelegate at Democratic convention". Arkansas News Bureau. Archived from the original on 24 September 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-25. 
  3. ^ a b "Bill Gwatney, Ark. Dem. chairman, shot dead at 48". The Associated Press. August 13, 2008. Archived from the original on 18 August 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-13. 
  4. ^ AP story Archived August 18, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ The Cabin article
  6. ^ "Arkansas Democratic Chairman Gwatney Killed In Shooting". RTT News. 2008-08-13. Archived from the original on 2008-08-18. Retrieved 2008-08-13. 
  7. ^ "Gunman wounds Ark. Dems' party chairman". The Associated Press. 2008-08-13. Archived from the original on 14 August 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-13. 
  8. ^ a b Shaila Dewan (2008-08-13). "Gunman Critically Wounds Arkansas Democratic Party Chairman". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-08-13. 
  9. ^ "Arkansas Democratic chairman killed in shooting". CNN. August 13, 2008. Archived from the original on 15 August 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-13. 
  10. ^ a b "Wounded suspect in Ark. shooting dies after chase". The Associated Press. 2008-08-13. Archived from the original on 2008-08-22. Retrieved 2008-08-13. 
  11. ^ Max Brantley (2008-08-13). "UPDATE: Bill Gwatney shot;; assailant dead". The Arkansas Times. Archived from the original on 19 August 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-13. 

External links[edit]