By Kathleen Gilbert and John Jalsevac
OWOSSO, Michigan, September 11, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) - An elderly pro-life activist was shot multiple times and killed this morning in front of Owosso High School in Michigan while he was peacefully protesting abortion with a sign depicting a baby and the word "Life," according to local police cited in the Flint Journal newspaper.
Locals say that the victim, James Pouillon of Owosso, was well-known in the area for his pro-life activities. Columnist Doug Powers wrote on his blog that Pouillon, called “the abortion sign guy" by Owosso locals, was known for standing on street corners holding up signs with pictures of aborted children.
Pastor Matt Trehella of Missionaries to the Preborn said today that Pouillon had joined his organization for a few stops of a pro-life tour less than a month ago. "Jim was a selfless, soft-spoken, kind-hearted man. All who knew him, knew this," he said. "Please pray for Jim's family."
Trehella said that Pouillon was an elderly man who needed constant use of an oxygen machine.
Troy Newman, the President of Operation Rescue (OR), said that Pouillon was a friend of OR. "We are stunned by Jim's murder," he said. "We extend our condolences to the family and share in their grief over his loss. His life was characterized by his love and concern of the vulnerable, and he will be greatly missed.
"We denounce this senseless act of violence in the strongest terms, and pray that this murderer will be swiftly brought to justice."
Reports indicate that a second individual was shot and killed in a different area of the city earlier in the day, and the two shootings are believed to be related, according to Shiawassee County sheriff George Braidwood. According to M-live.com, the second victim has now been identified as Mike Fuoss, 61, the owner of a local gravel pit. Fuoss was found dead in his office.
Police have confirmed that a suspect - a 33-year-old Owosso man - was taken into custody at the suspect's home shortly after the 7:30 a.m. shooting. After being taken into custody he confessed to the second killing as well. Fuoss knew the suspected killer, according to police, and it is so far unknown if Pouillon did as well. The motive for either of the killings is not yet known.
However, Police Chief Michael Compeau said that Pouillon appeared to be a target. "I would speculate it was ... intended," Compeau said, according to the Associated Press. "He was out protesting right across the street from the high school ... and there (were) multiple people around there and that person was targeted."
A black car was parked near the scene of the shooting, where a portable oxygen tank lay in a front yard next to a large sign with the word "Life" and an image of a baby.
In the wake of the tragedy, Fr. Pavone of Priests for Life told LifeSiteNews.com that he hoped to see "a strong expression of indignation from the pro-abortion community, just like there was a strong expression of indignation from the pro-life community at the killing of Dr. Tiller."
Secondly, Fr. Pavone called for "a renewal of unity within the pro-life community, coming to one another's assistance supporting one another, and by no means allowing fear or intimidation to have any role in our lives, but rather to move forward in peaceful organized ways to stand against this evil of abortion."