Police: Newport Man Plots to Kill

NEWPORT, AR -- A Newport business owner has been arrested for trying to hire someone to murder the mayor and police chief.

61-year-old Lawrence Tolerson, owner of Tolerson and Son Funeral Home is charged with two counts of Criminal Solicitation to Commit Capital Murder.

"I was somewhat shocked, somewhat surprised. Things like that just very rarely happen in a town our size," said Mayor David Stewart.

Stewart previously served as the police chief in Newport, and said he knows the suspect.

"We're acquaintances.  We do have a history and that's about as far as I want to go with that," said Stewart.

Tolerson was arrested on Tuesday morning by the Jackson County Sheriff's Department.

"Officers from my department went to Mr. Tolerson's business and took him into custody without incident," said Sheriff David Lucas.

Lucas said the investigation is being conducted by the Arkansas State Police.  While they aren't telling us a lot at this point, we do know the warrant came out of Woodruff County and that's where Tolerson is being held.

"Solicitation to commit capital murder is a 'class A' felony," said Lucas.  "It carries anywhere from six to thirty years in the state department of corrections and a fine of $15,000."

Working in the community, Tolerson is a well known person.

"I know Mr. Tolerson.  He's a local businessman here in Newport.  I've never had any trouble out of him at all," said Lucas.

Tolerson is expected to have his first court appearance on either Wednesday or Thursday in Woodruff County.