On Friday September 11, a well known pro-life activist was shot and killed because of his pro-life activism in Owosso Michigan.
Well-Known Pro-Life Activist Gunned Down in Michigan
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."
Suspect Charged with First-Degree Premeditated Murder of Michigan Pro-Lifer
By Kathleen Gilbert
OWOSSO, Michigan, September 11, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) – 33-year-old Harland James Drake has been charged with first-degree premeditated murder of pro-life veteran Jim Pouillon this morning as he carried a pro-life sign in front of a local high school, reports local news station WILX-TV.
Prosecutors said Drake told them he targeted Pouillon because of his pro-life activities.
“There was some displeasure with how open he was,” said Sara Edwards, Shiawassee County chief assistant prosecutor Sara Edwards, according to a New York Times report. “He tended to carry big signs with very graphic pictures of fetuses.”
Drake has also been charged with first-degree premeditated murder against Owosso business owner Mike Fuoss, felony firearm, and carrying a weapon with unlawful intent.
Police say Drake told them he was planning to kill a third individual, Owosso realtor James Howe, before he was apprehended.
Local news reports say Drake will return to court for a preliminary hearing on September 25th, and remains in custody without bond.
"Jim the Sign Guy": Slain Pro-Lifer, Father of Two, Remembered by Friends as Cheerful, Peaceful Activist
By Kathleen Gilbert
OWOSSO, Michigan, September 11, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Jim Pouillon, the pro-life activist shot and killed outside a high school in Owosso Friday morning, is being remembered today by friends as a peaceful and dedicated defender of the unborn. Those who knew him say that, in the face of the frequent physical harassment and death threats aimed at him for his pro-life work, the veteran pro-lifer always responded with charity.
According to friends, Pouillon, 63, was a born-again Christian and longtime resident of Owosso. They say he was divorced, with a son and a daughter as well as grandchildren.
LifeSiteNews.com (LSN) spoke with Cal Zastrow, a longtime friend of Pouillon’s, who described the pro-life activist as "one of the most loving, compassionate people, peaceful people I’ve ever met in my life."
Zastrow says Pouillon began his pro-life work with the rescue movement spearheaded by Operation Rescue in Atlanta, Georgia in 1988, and has been active ever since.
"He was 100% non-violent. He never threatened anyone. He never condoned violence ever," said Zastrow.
While known to travel to pro-life events throughout the country, Pouillon’s most frequent method of witnessing was by holding signs on the street corners in his hometown. And that was what he was doing when he was gunned down this morning – holding a sign depicting the beaming face of a newborn baby, with the word "LIFE" superimposed.
In his hometown, residents grew to expect the large bearded man, sitting in a lawn chair and holding pro-life signs with images of babies or aborted children. Suffering from weak lungs compromised by smoking earlier in life, he depended on a portable oxygen tank.
Occasionally, as he was doing this morning, Pouillon was known to stand near Owosso high school to discuss abortion with the students there.
He became known, after at least fifteen years of steady witnessing in Owosso, as "Jim the sign guy" or "the abortion sign guy," a ubiquitous presence that always drew reactions, whether of praise, anger, or hatred.
Various sources have described Pouillon as the frequent target of screaming, spitting, and even throwing fruit. Zastrow said that he and Pouillon often received verbal abuse and death threats from passersby.
But, he would just "smile and laugh, and say ‘Thank you, Jesus,’" Zastrow said of his friend. He noted that he and Pouillon had been physically assaulted on separate occasions "for peacefully praying and witnessing."
"He would say, ‘God forgive you, I bless you,’" he added.
Court records published by local news reports show that Pouillon has been cited on charges connected to his pro-life activities, mostly minor infringements related to property laws, many of which were dismissed. In 2000, Pouillon was found guilty for stalking – a charge Zastrow says was unjustly brought against the veteran pro-lifer.
"Once they lied about him and put him in jail for stalking, and they said he threatened somebody, but it wasn’t true," said Zastrow. "He never threatened anybody."
Zastrow expressed concern that media reports would portray Pouillon as violent. "He never was," said Zastrow. "He’s America’s first peaceful pro-life rescuer martyr."
Pastor Matt Trewhella of the Missionaries of the Preborn described his friend of 7 years as "so soft-spoken, but persevering, faithful." Trewhella said Pouillon began his ministry after he saw images of unborn children killed by abortion.
"He was moved with compassion and decided he had to speak up for them," said the pastor. "He was a good man."
Operation Rescue president Troy Newman told LSN that Pouillon, who participated in Operation Rescue, was a "dear friend" and "always an encourager."
"He’s the sort of guy who always gives you a big bear hug, tells you he loves you," said Newman. "I know he was always out on the street carrying a sign whether it was the dead of winter, or the middle of summer.
Newman said Pouillon’s faithfulness was evidenced by the way he died. "He was faithfully out on the street holding a sign in the middle of the week with a beautiful picture of a baby and it said ‘life’ on it. ‘Life,’ and a picture of a baby. And he was shot down for it," said Newman.
"If the purveyors of death think this is going to stop us, they’re absolutely dead wrong," said Newman. "History is replete with martyrs who have stood sacrificially and even given their own lives so that others may live. And that has always been the premise of the pro-life movement, and we will continue steadfast marching forward in that direction.
"Was he a perfect man? No, none of us are. But he stood faithful to the end."
Pro-Life Leaders Lament the Violent Death of a Friend and Ally – Jim Pouillon
By John Jalsevac
September 11, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) – This morning at 7:20am James Pouillon, an elderly Michigan-area pro-life activist, was gunned down in front of Owosso High School while protesting abortion with a large sign depicting a baby and the word "Life." A second man was also killed shortly thereafter – Mike Fuoss, the owner of a local gravel pit. It is so far unknown what the motives for the two killings were.
Pro-life leaders, many of whom personally knew Pouillon, have reacted with horror to the senseless killing of the long-time and dedicated activist for the unborn.
"We are stunned by Jim’s murder," said Operation Rescue (OR) President Troy Newman. "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."
Pastor Matt Trewhella of Missionaries of the Preborn said in a press release that Pouillon had joined his group 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.
Trewhella lamented that, "The press in all its hypocrisy is already painting Jim as a controversial figure. Their hypocrisy is rank. Remember when Tiller was killed how the press painted him as the most saintly man in America, singing his praises? They paint the man who kills the babies as some saint while the man who exposes the babies’ suffering is painted as something bad."
"Jim Pouillon is a hero," said Monica Migliorino Miller of South Lyon, the director of Citizens for a Pro-life Society. “Jim died while giving a peaceful witness to the sacredness of human life. He stood outside of the local high school on many occasions holding a sign of a baby to send a message to the students that abortion is the taking of innocent life.
"Now his life has been taken as he stood in witness against the injustice of abortion.
"When violence is aimed at those who provide abortion – pro-life leaders are swift to condemn it. We call on the pro-abortion community to condemn this violence against Jim Pouillon. Many have already blamed Jim for his own death because he dared to stand on the street with a pro-life sign. Such a point of view is atrocious and grossly irresponsible.”
Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life told LifeSiteNews.com (LSN) this morning that he hoped to see "a strong expression of indignation from the pro-abortion community, just like there was a strong expression of indignation form the pro-life community at the killing of Dr. Tiller."
Fr. Pavone also 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."
Bradley Mattes, Executive Director of Life Issues Institute, said, "It’s hard to imagine the hatred that motivates someone to murder, regardless of which side of the debate they’re on. It’s all desperately wrong.
"The murder of millions of innocent unborn babies is spilling out onto the streets of America. I pray we can stop the killing on all fronts. Our prayers are with Jim’s family."
Lila Rose, the President of Live Action Media also sent out a release, saying, "We are greatly saddened and disturbed by the murder of pro-life activist, Jim Pouillon.
"We condemn the violent act which robbed Jim of his life, and we stand with him in his protest against our nation’s violence to the unborn.
"Now is the time for the pro-life community to stand with even more courage and unity against abortion. We will work tirelessly until our nation recognizes the right to life of every human being, even the smallest and weakest."
"American Life League is heartbroken over the loss of a true pro-life hero," said Shaun Kenney, executive director of American Life League, "gunned down on the day Americans across the country mourn the violent deaths of 3,017 people. What a terrible irony that his death, on this day of infamy, brings to mind the 50 million innocent lives lost to abortion.
"Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends and community in the wake of this tragedy, and we renew our call for peace and prayer as the only remedies for the culture of violence."
"Since a motive has not yet been determined, speculation is useless, if not harmful," cautioned Kenney. "We commend the Shiawassee County sheriff’s department for its swift apprehension of the suspect, and we pray for God’s justice and mercy."
Wendy Wright, President of Concerned Women for America (CWA), stated, "We are shocked at this senseless violence against a peaceful man. Jim Pouillon sincerely lived out his belief that babies have the right to be born. He dedicated his life to convincing others to reject the violence of abortion. It is a tragedy upon tragedy that a peaceful man who tried to end violence was himself violently killed.
"We hope Attorney General Holder will as vigorously denounce the murder of Jim Pouillon, who tried to save babies from violence, as he did the murder of George Tiller, the late-term abortionist."
Pro-Abortion Groups Silent in Wake of Pro-Life Activist’s Slaying
By Kathleen Gilbert
OWOSSO, Michigan, September 11, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) – In contrast to the swift condemnations issued by every major pro-life group across America in the hours following the slaying of late-term abortionist George Tiller in May, a deafening silence from nearly every U.S. pro-abortion group has accompanied the hours of nationwide media buzz following the shooting death of Michigan pro-life activist Jim Pouillon early Friday morning. The only statements from pro-abortion forces thus far have been issued by the local Michigan chapter of Planned Parenthood, and the pro-abortion website RHrealitycheck.org.
Pouillon, 63, was shot multiple times and killed at 7:20 a.m. as he stood with a pro-life sign outside Owosso High School. Police charged 33-year-old Owosso resident Harland James Drake Friday afternoon with Pouillon’s first-degree murder, as well as the first-degree murder of local gravel pit owner Mike Fuoss, 61, killed earlier in the morning.
Prosecutors said Drake told them he targeted Pouillon because of his pro-life activity.
Though Pouillon’s death has made headlines in major news media, leading national pro-abortion organizations including Planned Parenthood Federation of America, NARAL, the National Organization for Women, and the National Abortion Federation have issued no response to the slaying as of 4:45 p.m. EST.
However, within minutes after news broke that Wichita’s late-term abortionist George Tiller was shot and killed on a Sunday morning while serving as an usher at his Lutheran church, dozens of nationwide pro-life leaders and organizations immediately poured out condemnations against the violence.
Operation Rescue, which had spearheaded peaceful protests of Tiller’s business for several years, was among the first to denounce the "vigilantism and the cowardly act that took place this morning," adding that they were offering prayers for Tiller’s family.
Pouillon was a friend and active member of Operation Rescue.
Obama Administration Issues No Response to Slaying of Pro-Life Advocate
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — The Obama administration was quick to respond to the shooting death of late-term abortion practitioner George Tiller. But, when it comes to the murder of a pro-life advocate urging students at a Michigan high school, the Obama administration hasn’t said a word. LifeNews.com has searched the daily press releases from administration officials, the White House website, mainstream media stories on the shooting, and news search engines. The search reveals the Obama administration has been silent on the Friday shooting death of pro-life advocate Jim Pouillon by an abortion advocate who was upset that he protested abortion outside a local high school. LifeNews.com sent an email to Obama’s press and faith offices hours after the shooting looking for reaction and never received a reply. CNS News also indicated it sent requests to both the White House and the Department of Justice asking whether a statement would be released on Pouillon’s death and never received a response. Reid Cherlin, the White House spokesman that CNS News was told would be the one most likely to issue a response, did not respond to any of its repeated requests for comment or reaction.