James Pouillon, 63, a pro-life activist known as the "Sign Man" was gunned down this morning as he stood across the street from Owosso High School holding his pro-life sign.
According to Owosso Police Chief Michael Compeau, Pouillon, was shot several times by a 33 year-old male driving by in a car. The shooting took place shortly after 7:30 a.m. and caused officials to place the high school in lock down.
Owosso Police have taken the unidentified 33 year-old into custody and are saying he is also connected to the death of Mike Fuoss, 61, whose shooting was reported to police this morning, just after Pouillon's slaying.
Fuoss was found dead from multiple gunshot wounds just after 8 a.m. at his business Fuoss Gravel, but police officials are still unsure about when he was murdered.
Neighbors in the mid-Michigan town of 16,000 told WNEM TV that all three of the people knew each other. One neighbor said that after the Pouillon's shooting an oxygen tank and the sign that the well-known activist typically carried could be seen laying on the ground. The sign had a photograph of a newborn baby boy and the word "Life" across the bottom.
Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life issued a statement on the slaying, saying, "We do not know the motive yet. But this is a time to console one another, and to renew our determination to organize peaceful protests. It is no time for fear. And I am waiting to hear the abortion advocates condemn this killing."
The American Life League also expressed its condolences, and said it is "heartbroken over the loss of a true pro-life hero, 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," said Shaun Kenney, the League's executive director.
Troy Newman, president of the Wichita, Kansas-based Operation Rescue, said that his organization is "stunned by Jim's murder."
"We denounce this senseless act of violence in the strongest terms, and pray that this murderer will be swiftly brought to justice," he said.
Pro-life groups across the country have been receiving death threats by mail, over the phone and via email in the past several months.
"We have received literally hundreds of death threats in the past three months. Our office has been vandalized three times. Just yesterday, the FBI was in our office and picked up a stack of threatening letters that we received," Newman reported.
"We denounce violence in the strongest terms. The bloodshed must stop both inside and outside of the abortion clinics."