By Calvin Palmer
An anti-abortion activist was shot and killed while protesting outside a high school in Michigan this morning.
Anti-abortion activist Jim Pouillon, 63, was regular fixture outside Owosso High School, holding up graphic signs of aborted fetuses.
Police arrested Harlan Drake, 33, of Owosso, at his home 45 minutes after the shooting after witnesses gave police the license plate of the car from where the shots were fired.
Witnesses also said between four and 10 shots were fired from a moving vehicle.
Drake told officers he was also involved in the killing of a gravel pit owner earlier in the day and planned to kill a third person.
Authorities found the body of Mike Fuoss, 61, in the office of his gravel production company and it is believed Fuoss and the gunman knew each other.
Owosso police chief Michael Compeau said it was not clear if the gunman knew Pouillon.
Compeau said he believed Pouillon was the gunman’s intended victim.
“He was out protesting right across the street from the high school and there were multiple people around there and that person was targeted,” Compeau said.
Mike McCloskey, 77, an Owosso resident, said Pouillon was well-known for his opposition to abortion.
He said Pouillon was a retired GM worker and a controversial figure who regularly showed up outside schools, churches and on street corners to spout his anti-abortion views.
“He was often vocal about what he thought and that was offensive to some people,” McCloskey said.
Compeau said it was not known what abortion views are held by the shooting suspect.
Owosso Schools Interim Superintendent Susan Wooden said Pouillon had picketed near the school off and on for years. Wooden said school officials had long been concerned about political activism on or near school property, saying it could be upsetting for some students.
“We had spoken to the gentleman before and insisted that he be off the school property with his message,” Wooden said. She said the victim had been picketing this morning off school property before the incident.
Several other schools in Shiawassee County were also locked down after the shooting but later reopened.
Fuoss’ brother-in-law, Glen Merkel, said Fuoss was found shot dead in his office around 7:30 a.m. by an employee. He said Fuoss was seen alive perhaps 20 minutes earlier when another truck driver for his company came to pick up a load of gravel.
Merkel said the suspect in the shootings is the son of a former Fuoss Gravel employee, but said he did not know any reason for Fuoss’ slaying.
Drake was arraigned this afternoon on two counts of first-degree murder, one count of using a gun in commission of a crime, and carrying a gun with the intent to commit a crime.
The third charge was related to Drake’s alleged intent to commit a third homicide, said the Shiawassee county prosecutor, Randy Colbry.
Colbry said authorities do not believe that the two homicides and the third plot were related, saying, “They stemmed from individual grievances Drake had with the victims.”
Owosso is about 20 miles west of Flint and is Shiawassee County’s largest city.