JPD Investigating Shooting of Former Judge

DECEMBER 27, 2004 - Posted at 6:31 p.m. CST

JONESBORO, AR - Former Jonesboro municipal court Judge Bill Webster is recovering from a lengthy emergency surgery at a local hospital at this hour, after being shot twice early this afternoon outside his Franklin Street law office.

Witnesses told K8 News that Webster was gunned down by an elderly man who stepped from behind a building and shot the victim two times with a rifle.  "I said he's got a gun!  I said he didn't fall, he shot him!  By that time we were all in here hysterical and hollering," said Deborah Barber, who works across the street from Webster's office.  "He was kind of a heavy set guy.  He had on a camo jacket, black hat and maybe glasses.  He was kind of a stocky build," she said of the shooter.

Witnesses said two shots were fired, with one hitting Webster in the face.  "I thought he was gonna' shoot him again because Bill raised up.  It looked like they was having words.  Then he just kind of walked back, walked around the truck, put his gun in and left," said Barber.  She and co-worker Peggy Stoner then rushed to Webster's aid.  "Me and Peggy went over there to see if we could help that time he (the suspect) had run off.  We asked him if he knew who it was and he said, 'well, yes.'"

"He was bleeding so bad, so bad...and I said 'Please don't say anything else,' because I was afraid he would start bleeding worse," said Stoner.

Police are actively searching for the suspect at this time.  He is believed to be driving a gray or black Isuzu Rodeo with Florida tags.  The suspect may have been involved in a shooting Sunday night in Sharp County in which a woman received minor wounds from a shotgun blast.  Jonesboro police detective Lynn Waterworth told K8 News this afternoon, "There is reason to believe the two shootings may be connected."

Meanwhile, Crittenden County authorities briefly detained a man following a traffic stop on I-55 early this afternoon in connection with the Jonesboro shooting, but that person was eventually released.

(K8 News Assignment Manager Randy Myers contributed to this report.)