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Beheading suspect to face charges


The plant where the beheading took place (AP)

The plant where the beheading took place (AP)

The plant where the beheading took place (AP)

A man shot after beheading a woman and attacking another at a food processing plant from which he had just been sacked has regained consciousness, police say.

Alton Nolen, 30, is in hospital in a stable condition after Thursday's attack at the Vaughan Foods plant in the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore. He will be charged tomorrow with first-degree murder and assault and battery with a deadly weapon and may also face federal charges.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for an Oklahoma City Islamic group said Nolen was a frequent worshipper at a mosque the group maintains and he remembered him as "a little weird".

"He was a nice, quiet, low-key guy," said Saad Mohammed, director of information for the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City. He acted "a little odd", but his behaviour never raised any "red flags", he added.

Mr Mohammed said Nolen began worshipping at one of the group's mosques in May.

Police said Nolen was sacked just before the attack, and then drove from the building that houses the company's human resources department to its main distribution centre.

Once inside, he attacked Colleen Hufford, 54, with a knife in the administrative office area, eventually severing her head. Nolen then repeatedly stabbed 43-year-old Traci Johnson before Mark Vaughan, a reserve sheriff's deputy and the company's chief operating officer, shot him.

Ms Johnson was treated for her injuries at the University of Oklahoma Medical Centre, and was released yesterday.

Sgt Jeremy Lewis of Moore police said Johnson was interviewed by detectives yesterday after regaining consciousness.

Police learned Nolen was sacked for "numerous reasons" involving "personnel issues", Sgt Lewis said.

The FBI was asked to help investigate Nolen after co-workers told investigators he had recently started trying to convert several employees to Islam.

Sgt Lewis said police asked the FBI to look into Nolen's background because of the nature of the attack, which followed a series of high-profile videotaped beheadings by Islamic State militants in Syria.

Mr Mohammed said Nolen had attended services where sermons were delivered condemning such attacks.

"In no way, shape or form did he represent Islam in this foolish act," he said.

FBI Special Agent in Charge James Finch said the motive for the attack had not been determined, but that there was no reason to believe there was a threat to anyone else.

According to Oklahoma Department of Corrections records, Nolen served time in prison and is on probation for assault and battery of a police officer. He also was convicted of cocaine possession with the intent to distribute in 2011.

The records show that Nolen has what appear to be religious tattoos, including one referencing Jesus and one in Arabic that means "peace be with you".

PA Media