(Adds suspect’s background, details on attack timeline and employee who stopped the attack)
By Heide Brandes
OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla., Sept 26 (Reuters) - A worker killed in an attack at an Oklahoma food distribution warehouse on Thursday was beheaded and the suspect, a fired coworker, had reportedly tried to convert his colleagues to Islam, law enforcement officials said on Friday.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is looking into suspect Alton Nolen’s background for any potential religious ties to the attack after former colleagues reported he had attempted to convert them, police in the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore said.
Nolen, who had recently adopted Islam, had been fired moments before the attack, police said.
Islamist militants fighting in Iraq and Syria have released videos that purported to show the beheadings of two Americans and a British aid worker.
Nolen, 30, was shot by the chief operating officer at the Vaughan Foods facility in Moore during the Thursday afternoon attack, said Moore police Sergeant Jeremy Lewis. Nolen is being treated at a local hospital and is expected to survive, he said.
Nolen is suspected of killing 54-year-old Colleen Hufford and stabbing 43-year-old Traci Johnson. The employees were apparently attacked randomly, Lewis said.
Johnson is in stable condition at a local hospital, police said.
Nolen was fired from his job on Thursday afternoon for reasons that police say remain unclear. He immediately drove to the front of the business’ main office, struck another vehicle and walked in the front door, police said. He stabbed Hufford several times and then severed her head, Lewis said.
“We can hear a lot of screaming,” a 911 caller, who said he was in a separate building, reported to police during the attack, according to a recording released by Moore police on Friday.
Nolen attacked Johnson with the same knife before Chief Operating Officer Mark Vaughan confronted the suspect and shot him while he was stabbing Johnson, Lewis said.
Oklahoma County officials said Vaughan has been a reserve sheriff’s deputy since 2010 and is frequently called upon to help in high-profile cases typically reserved for full-time officers, including major incident response and assisting patrols.
He was president, chief executive officer and director at Vaughan’s from 1992 until 2007, when he was named COO, according to a profile in Forbes magazine.
Nolen has a nonviolent criminal record, including drug-related arrests, a jail escape and resisting police. (Editing by Karen Brooks, Jim Loney and Mohammad Zargham)