James Edward POUGH
Classification: Mass murderer
Number of victims: 12
Date of murders: 1971
/ June 17-18, 1990
Date of birth: 1948
Victims profile: David
Louis Carl Bacon (pimp) and Doretta Drake (prostitute)
/ Nine employees
of General Motors
Method of murder:
Shooting (.30 caliber M1 rifle and
a .38 revolver)
Location: Jacksonville, Florida, USA
Status: Committed suicide by shooting himself on June 18, 1990
James Edward Pough (1948 – 18 June 1990) was
an American mass murderer.
On 18 June 1990, Pough, 42, shot 17 people, killing
10 before killing himself in a shooting spree in a General Motors
Acceptance Corporation car loan office in Jacksonville, Florida, after
his car, a red 1988 Pontiac, was repossessed.
Before that day, he was believed to have killed two
others - a prostitute and her pimp - and wounded two as well.
James Edward "Pop" Pough (1948 - June 18, 1990), who
was living in a rundown duplex in Jacksonville's Northwest Quadrant, was
known by his neighbors as a quiet and nice man who kept a regular and
fixed schedule, though also as someone who got angry fairly quickly and
engaged in rage-filled conversations, especially in matters concerning
money and his car.
Pough, an unskilled construction worker and day
laborer, who was described by his business agent as one of their best
workers and somebody who was never late, was doing construction
maintenance at a brewery during the last year of his life.
After the death of his mother three years prior to
the shootings Pough was said to have changed for the worse. Stating that
he has nothing left to live for, he argued he will take someone with him
when he leaves this world.
Frequently he had violent outbursts, which were
directed against his wife, Theresa, most of the time, and twice he
threatened her by putting a gun to her head. In January 1990 they
separated, as Mrs. Pough feared for her safety and on March 2, she was
granted an injunction that disallowed James Pough to get in contact with
her for a year. As a consequence he became reclusive and rarely
According to former schoolmates Pough had
affiliations with gangs during his time at school. In 1968 Pough was
arrested for dangerously displaying a knife and was fined $75.
In 1971 he was arrested for manslaughter in Duval
County after shooting a man to death, David Pender, outside a bar with a
.38-caliber pistol and was sentenced to five years probation after
pleading guilty to aggravated assault, but the judgment of guilty was
withheld by the court subject to the successful completion of probation.
Due to Pough's violent behavior in the past, it was
also ruled that he should never be allowed to own a gun, though this was
unknown to police. As a consequence Pough was not considered a felon and
therefore was able to purchase several handguns, among them the .38-caliber
revolver he later used to commit suicide, which was registered with the
police on June 4, 1979. There was also an outstanding warrant for his
arrest in a 1982 employment compensation fraud case.
In January 1990 Pough's 1988 Pontiac Grand Am was
voluntarily repossessed by GMAC and he received a bill for $6,394 of
outstanding fees in March, which was the last contact between him and
Pough started his killing spree in the night of June
17 at about 12:50 a.m., when he killed a pimp, Louis Carl Bacon, with
two shots in the chest, and prostitute Doretta Drake, with a single shot
to the head from a M1 Carbine, when they were standing on a corner in
the northwest section of Jacksonville, not far from his home. Police
assumed that the reason behind these killings was a failed sex-for-money
deal. About ten minutes after his first murders he also shot and wounded
two youths, 17 and 18 years of age, after asking them for directions.
At about 10:45 a.m. Pough parked his car at the
General Motors Acceptance Corporation office located at 7870
Baymeadows Way in Jacksonville. Leaving a 9mm semi-automatic pistol in
the trunk of his Buick he entered the building through the front door,
armed with his M1 Carbine, a .38-caliber revolver, several loaded
magazines and his pockets packed with ammunition, and, without saying
a word, immediately began shooting with the M1 Carbine, killing
customer Julia Burgess at the front counter.
Walking through the open office he then
systematically, though discontinuously moved from desk to desk and
shot at the GMAC workers, often deliberately aiming at people hiding
under their tables.
Drew Woods was the first to be shot at his desk,
just to be followed by Cynthia Perry and Barbara Holland nearby, as
well as 42-year-old Phyllis Griggs, who was injured. When the GMAC
employees realized what was going on, many of them escaped through a
back door of the building, while Pough started picking off those
ducking for cover, and shot, one after the other, Janice David, Sharon
Hall, Jewell Belote, Lee Simonton, Denise Highfill, Ron Echevarria,
David Hendrix and Nancy Dill.
Before he put the .38-caliber revolver to his head
and committed suicide, Pough fired 28 rounds from his rifle, hitting
12 of the 85 workers at the office, some of them being shot seven and
eight times. Six of his victims and the gunman himself died at the
scene, while another three died at hospital, the last being Jewell
Belote, who succumbed to his wounds nine days after the shooting,
which had lasted no longer than a few minutes. It was the worst single
day massacre by a lone gunman in Florida history, surpassing the
murder of eight machine shop employees in Hialeah by Carl Robert Brown
on August 20, 1982.
- Louis Carl Bacon, 39, shot on June 17
- Doretta Drake, 30, shot on June 17
- Jewell Belote, 50
- Julia White Burgess, 42
- Janice David, 40
- Sharon Louise Hall, 45
- Denise Sapp Highfill, 36
- Barbara Duckwall Holland, 45
- Cynthia L. Perry, 30
- Lee Simonton, 33
- Drew Woods, 38
On June 18, 1990, James Edward Pough
walked into the General Motors Acceptance Corporation
Office, Jacksonville, Florida and killed nine employees
and customers. He then killed himself. Four people were
injured. The firearms used in the crime were a Universal
.30 caliber M1 rifle and a .38 revolver.
Pough was upset because his 1988
Pontiac Grand Am was repossessed. He purchased the car
for $9,700 in September of 1988. Pough gave the car back
to GMAC in January 1990. His anger had been stoked by
repeated letters from GMAC requesting a payment of
$6,394. This was the remaining loan balance after the
car was sold.
Pough was also suspected in the
robbery of a convenience store, a hit-and-run against a
pedestrian, shooting two people, and the murder of two
people on June 17, 1990.
The GMAC office was located at 7870
Baymeadows Way. It never reopened in this location. The
GMAC building was renovated and is now occupied by the
Florida Telco Credit Union.
James Edward Pough
In 1971 James Pough was leaving a bar with his
girlfriend when a man started to abuse her. Well Pough couldn't allow
his lady to be disrespected so he killed the abuser. Luckily for him his
lawyer was able to get the charges dropped down to aggravated assault
and Pough only received five years probation for the killing. At the end
of the five years the crime was wiped from his record, meaning he could
again purchase weapons legally.
His life just drifted along until early in 1990, when
his wife decided to leave him. Then later in the same month his pride
and joy, a 1988 Pontiac Grand Am, was repossessed by GMAC. But despite
these happenings Pough seemed to be unaffected, that is until June 18.
Just after midnight Pough went out into the street and
shot a man and woman dead. About five minutes later he asked two
teenagers for directions, then shot both at close range, wounding both.
At 9:00 am Pough robbed a convenience-store clerk at
gunpoint. He then made his way to the local GMAC office.
At 10:50 am he walked in and shot a girl at the
counter dead. He then walked around the counter to the main offices and
took aim at anyone who moved. After calmly killing eight, he pulled out
a previously concealed .38 revolver and shot himself in the head,
killing himself instantly.
8 slain in Florida loan office 5
gunman then kills self
The Arizona Repuiblic
June 19, 1990
A gunman "loaded for war" Monday stalked
through an auto-loan company that had repossessed his car, firing at
customers, shooting under desks at hiding employees and leaving eight
dead before killing himself.
Five other victims were listed in critical but stable
condition after the late-morning shootings at the General Motors
Acceptance Corp. office south of downtown.
'Nice guy' a suspect in double
The Bradenton Herald
June 19, 1990
A gunman who neighbors described as a "nice
guy" who kept to himself also was linked by police to a double
slaying the day before he shot and killed eight people and then himself
at an auto loan company Monday.
Eyewitnesses identified James Edward Pough, 42, as the
person who killed a man and a woman in separate shootings Sunday. Police
also confirmed he used ``the same rifle'' as in the office massacre.
'He's shooting everybody!' '911'
The Arizona Republic
June 20, 1990
Police released dramatic ''911'' tapes on Tuesday of
terrified office workers pleading for help as a gunman roamed the
building and shots rang out in the background.
"We're being killed!" whispered a General
Motors Acceptance Corp. employee as James Edward "Pop" Pough
methodically made his way through the auto-loan office. "Send the,
send the SWAT team now!"
Office massacre stirs gun debate
The Bradenton Herald
June 20, 1990
The Jacksonville massacre by a man firing a
semiautomatic rifle comes as voters in crime-plagued Florida consider a
proposed constitutional amendment on handguns and a gubernatorial
candidate pushing for a ban on assault rifles.
James Edward Pough, 42, a day laborer, killed eight
people Monday with his .30-caliber rifle before killing himself with a
revolver at the General Motors Acceptance Corp. office in Jacksonville,
authorities said. Police said Pough killed two people on the street
Killer's relatives report threats
The Miami Herald
June 21, 1990
Relatives of James Pough were given police protection
Wednesday after they reported receiving death threats in reprisal for
his massacre of eight people in a loan office.
Jacksonville death toll rises to 10
The Miami Herald
June 28, 1990
A worker wounded last week when a gunman invaded a
loan office and opened fire died Wednesday, pushing to 10 the death toll
in the General Motors Acceptance Corp. massacre and making it the worst
mass killing in Florida history. Jewell Belote, 50, a stenographer at
GMAC, died from complications Wednesday at University Medical Center,
said Vince Scolaro, a hospital spokesman. Earlier this week, Belote's
condition was downgraded from serious to critical because of the
complications from her wounds, Scolaro said.
The 10 dead include gunman James Edward Pough, who
took his own life after going on a shooting rampage with a .30-caliber
rifle in the GMAC office June 18. GMAC repossessed Pough's car in
January, then notified him in March that he still owed $6,394, the
difference between the car's resell value and the amount of the loan. In
addition to the nine people killed and four wounded by Pough at GMAC, he
also killed two people and wounded two others on Jacksonville streets
during the weekend preceding the Monday morning office shooting.
Tuesday, two of the four people hospitalized after the
GMAC shooting were allowed to go home. David Hendrix, 24, was
released from Baptist Medical Center. Ron Echevarria, 49, was released
from University Medical Center. Hendrix, who suffered two collapsed
lungs as a result of the shooting, was flown from the GMAC office via
helicopter to Baptist Medical Center. Dr. Jack Crump, who performed
life- saving surgery on Hendrix, said his youth and overall good health
speeded his recovery. Hendrix was making a payment on his pickup truck
at the GMAC counter when Pough came in and without a word began firing.
Echevarria is a GMAC employee. GMAC employees Phyllis Griggs, 42, and
Nancy Dill, 31, remained in stable condition Wednesday and continued to
improve at Baptist Medical Center.
Meanwhile, at University Medical Center, Patrice
Johnson, 18, who was wounded Sunday in one of the street shootings
blamed on Pough, was listed in fair condition.
Gunman kills 8, himself
Tuesday, June 19, 1990
JACKSONVILLE -- A man whose car
had been repossessed blasted his way through an auto financing office
with a rifle and a pistol Monday, killing eight people and wounding at
least five before committing suicide.
There were 86 people in the office of the General
Motors Acceptance Corp. in the Baymeadows Office Park. A customer was
the first victim, shot to death at the front counter. Three employees
were shot at their desks. The rest took cover under theirs -- death
bunkers for six of them.
Two nights before, a man and a woman were killed 10
minutes apart in northwest Jacksonville by a man disgruntled about the
services of a prostitute. That was the same killer, James Edward Pough,
investigators said after the bloody rampage Monday.
Neighbors on West 22nd Street said Pough, 42, was a
nice guy who minded his own business. Pough, pronounced "Pew"
and nicknamed Pop, was described as a day laborer. His last known
employer was a heating, ventilating, air-conditioning and sprinkler
He lived on the second floor of a worn cement block
house, with the ground floor boarded up and the yard mostly bare dirt
with a rusty weight bench standing outdoors. His 1988 Pontiac Grand Am
was repossessed in January. It is not certain if that alone drove him
into so great a rage, Duval County Sheriff James McMillan said. After
surveying the massacre scene at the General Motors Acceptance Corp. in
Baymeadows Office Park, the sheriff was certain of this:
"It's just a terrible, terrible, senseless thing.
It is one of the worst things I've seen in my 20-some-odd years of
Pough had a criminal record. He was arrested for
manslaughter for a 1971 shooting death in Duval County but pleaded
guilty to aggravated assault and was sentenced to five years on
probation, according to court records.
GMAC, one of the nation's largest car financing
companies, arranges time payments for customers of GM dealers. Since
losing his Pontiac, Pough had been driving a 1977 Buick. Between
shootings early Sunday, it jumped a curb and hit a pedestrian. Neighbors
said Pough's routine was fixed: Carrying a hard hat, he left home every
day at 6:30 a.m. and was home by 3:30 p.m. "He was a nice person.
He came in his house, minded his own business," said neighbor
None of the neighbors really knew any more about Pough
than who he was, said Mary Trapp across the street. "Everybody's
like that. We don't visit with nobody." "It looks like he set
out to do some real terrible things even as early as the weekend.
Whether he had it in mind to go out to GMAC at that time, we don't
know," the sheriff said.
At 10:45 a.m. Monday, he parked at the GMAC office and
left a 9mm semiautomatic pistol locked in the trunk of his Buick. He
came in the door and shot a customer at the front counter -- Julia White
Burgess, 42, of Keystone Heights -- and moved into the large, open room
as employees dived for cover under desks. "He just started walking
through the building and shooting," said McMillan.
Drew Woods, 38, shot where he sat at his desk, was the
first to fall there. Behind Woods, Cynthia Perry, 30, was getting up to
leave her desk when she was hit. Next to her, Barbara Duckwall Holland,
45, was shot as she tried to duck under her own desk. She screamed. He
shot her again and she fell silent, the fourth to die. Pough was silent
too. No one remembered him saying a word. For a few moments some of the
office staff did not know what was going on, employee Richard Langille
said. "At first, back where we were, from the noise off it, it
sounded like a copy machine or something had blown up."
When someone hollered "Get down!" they
realized what was happening and dived under desks to escape. There they
Pough turned to his right and shot Phyllis Griggs, 42,
who was directly in front of him. She escaped as he turned his attention
past her. "And then we realized the guy was pointing his gun
underneath people's desks and killing them one by one," said
Langille, who guessed he heard 50 shots. "I just saw the bottom of
the carpet and just prayed."
The rifle, poked under their desks, blasted away at
Janice David, 40, and Sharon L. Hall, 45. Both were killed. Jewel
Belote, 50, shot under her desk, was still alive at nightfall. Lee
Simonton, 33, was shot under his desk and died later. A policeman's
wife, Denise Highfill, 36, was killed under her desk. Ron Echevarria,
49, also shot under a desk, survived. David Hendrix, 25, the 13th person
shot, was still alive Monday night. So was Nancy Dill, 31.
Fred Bateh, owner of a sandwich shop across the
street, said a GMAC employee ran into his store about 10:45 a.m. and
said "Somebody's shooting people at close range. A lot of them are
Daniel Mulvaney, an AT&T worker, was outside on a
break when he heard the gunfire. "We saw people running from the
building. One had blood on his leg and another had blood all over his
back," Mulvaney said.
A woman in the office was on the phone at the time to
Nita King, assistant deputy clerk of Marion County, who overheard the
action at her end of the line in Ocala. "I answered the phone and
didn't get an answer a couple of times," King said. "And she
says, 'Help! Help! Help! We're being robbed. Please help,' About that
time I could hear some gunshots in the background. She was under her
King yelled for someone to call the police. "I
kept her on the phone until the law agencies did get there," King
said. "You could hear the gunshots. I heard at least 8 or 10, I
guess, people screaming and carrying on. The girl was so upset, she kept
begging for help. It was just terrible."
When police arrived at the one-story office building
made of white stone, they found seven bodies.
Two more people died soon afterward, raising the death
count to nine. The rest, all reported in serious and critical condition,
were at University Medical Center and Baptist and St. Luke's hospitals.
Police picked up 28 spent .30-caliber rifle cartridges
and one .38-caliber pistol casing -- presumably from the shot Pough
fired into his own head. Most of the shooting was done with Pough's
clip-fed rifle. "There's numerous magazines, plus numerous rounds
in his pockets. He was loaded for war," said Deputy Mark Bozeman.
Investigators immediately wondered if Pough had
anything to do with the earlier rifle murders committed in Pough's own
neighborhood. Sheriff McMillan said their hunch was confirmed late in
the day when witnesses were shown Pough's picture and identified him as
the rifleman who killed Louis Carl Bacon, 39, and Doretta Drake, 30, at
12:50 and 1 a.m. Sunday.
The death total matches the worst previous one-day
killing in Florida, a 1982 massacre at a Miami machine shop that left
nine dead and three wounded. The gunman, schoolteacher Carl Brown, was
getting away on a bicycle until a passing motorist caught up and bumped
him from behind, knocking him into a utility pole and killing him.
James Edward Pough
On the morning of June 18, 1990, James
Edward Pough walked in a GMC car loan office in Jacksonville, Florida
and started shooting. Police said he was distraught over GMC's
repossession of his red 1988 Pontiac. "Pop," as his neighbors
called him, started his rampage the night before by killing a prostitute
and her pimp. The next morning, at the GMC office, he randomly killed
eight and wounded five others. When he saw no one else left alive he
turned the gun on himself.
Here's a first-hand account from a
reader of the Archives:
"The morning of June 18, 1990
started out as a normal one for me. I was unemployed and looking for
work. I had a job interview that morning on the southside of
Jacksonville, FL. I got breakfast and headed towards Baymeadows Road. It
was a pleasant day, so pleasant I actually got lost. After backtracking
and finally asking an Electric Company crew for directions, I drove
toward my destination. I missed the driveway the first time I passed the
building I was to be at. The next building was the GMAC Office. I turned
in and circled through the parking lot. As I passed through, I looked at
my watch. I thought to myself, "Is there enough time to drop off a
resume here?" If I hadn't gotten lost, there would have been. I had
to go to my scheduled appointment, but thought I would go back afterward.
I never dreamed that I wouldn't have the chance.
As I drove out of the GMAC parking lot
an old, faded green Pontiac 4-door was pulling in. A big black man was
driving. As we passed, he glared at me. It was the kind of look a wild
animal gives just before it attacks. I felt the hair on the back of my
neck stand up. I drove quickly out of the parking lot and across the
street to my appointment. I had a real bad feeling about the man.
My interview went well and I left the
building on my way to the GMAC office across the street. It was a scene
I will never forget. The place was absolutely crawling with Police,
Rescue, Helicopter Ambulances, you name it. The press wasn't there yet.
I asked a bystander what was going on and was told of the massacre in
the GMAC office. I felt my knees get weak. I sat down and tried to calm
down. I would later find out just how close I came to being gunned down
in cold blood. We were all detained while the emergency crews worked at
the scene. We watched as stretcher after stretcher was rolled out of the
building. 8 people would die that day.
I watched the news that night and they
showed a picture of the killer and his car. It was the man in the
Pontiac, mass murderer, James Edward Pough. Pough had already killed two
people and went into the GMAC office within minutes after I saw him. I
thank God to this day that I got lost that morning. I would have been
one of the first to be gunned down in the lobby as Pough went on his
rampage. He literally worked his way through the office methodically
killing people. After he got done shooting the others, he turned a gun
on himself and took his own life. It would be Pough's last violent act.
An act of a madman."