The mother and sister of Alton Nolen, the man who, police said, stabbed two employees of an Oklahoma food processing plant and severed the head of one of his victims, addressed the accusations against their family member in a statement on Saturday.
Nolen’s mother, Joyce Nolen, apologized to the families of the two victims in a video message posted on Facebook, but she said that things her son is accused of are out of character.
“My heart is just so heavy right now,” Joyce Nolen said. “I want to apologize to both families because this is not Alton.”
“We’re all still in shock right now,” added Megan Nolen, the suspect’s sister. “We’re praying for both of the victims’ families.”
Alton Nolen, 30, walked into the front office of the Vaughan Foods plant in Moore, Okla. shortly after he was fired and attacked two women with a knife, Moore Police Sgt. Jeremy Lewis said in a statement. Colleen Hufford, 54, was killed after she was repeatedly stabbed, and her head was severed.
Nolen then attacked 43-year-old Traci Johnson before he was shot by a Vaughan Foods executive Mark Vaughan, who is also a reserve deputy with the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Department, police said. Johnson was released from the hospital after being treated for her injuries.
According to Moore police, Vaughan employees said that Nolen, a recent convert to Islam, had recently started “trying to convert several employees to the Muslim religion.”
Federal officials told The Washington Post that Nolen’s Facebook page included “provocative” postings, including a photo of Osama bin Laden, an image of a beheading, and a photo of Omar al-Shishani, a prominent Islamic State fighter who is Chechen.
“I know my son. My son was raised up in a loving home,” Joyce Nolen said. “My son was raised up believing in God. That’s what he believed.”
Nolen was hospitalized for his injuries after the Thursday incident. He regained consciousness on Saturday and was interviewed by detectives, according to the Associated Press. He is expected to be charged on Monday.