Image: Det. Sgt. Thomas Holcomb
Paul Sancya  /  AP
Det. Sgt. Thomas Holcomb adjusts bullet trajectory posts in a sign which belonged to anti-abortion activist Jim Pouillon, who was shot dead Friday in Owosso, Mich.
updated 9/13/2009 12:47:26 AM ET 2009-09-13T04:47:26

A real estate agent told he was the third target of a shooting spree that left an abortion protester and a business owner dead said Saturday he fled his home after the violence that claimed two lives in their small Michigan city.

The man charged with the killings, meanwhile, was taken from jail to a hospital to undergo surgery for a self-inflicted wound to his arm, according to a county prosecutor.

James Howe of Owosso said his family was upset after police told him he was an intended target of the Friday shooting spree. He hesitated when asked how he was dealing with allegations.

"How would you hole up if someone was told you were going to be killed?" said Howe, who spoke to The Associated Press by cell phone. He declined to say where he and his family were staying.

Howe also declined to discuss or say whether he knew Harlan James Drake, 33, who is accused of shooting to death anti-abortion activist James Pouillon and gravel pit owner Mike Fuoss. Authorities said when he was arrested Drake told police he also intended to kill Howe.

Drake was taken from the county jail to a hospital Saturday after cutting his arm near the wrist, said Shiawassee County Prosecutor Randy Colbry. Colbry said he did not know exactly when Drake cut himself or what he used to do so.

"It sounds like he's going to make it, but it's a serious gash, a very serious wound to his arm," Colbry said.

Drake was arraigned Friday without an attorney on first-degree murder charges and ordered held without bond.

Police said little about what might have led Drake — a truck driver who mostly lived on the road in his cab and had family in the area — to kill, other than that he had a grudge against Fuoss and Howe and didn't like Pouillon's graphic anti-abortion signs.

Pouillon, 63, was a polarizing figure in Owosso, a town of 15,000 best known as the birthplace of 1948 Republican presidential candidate Thomas Dewey. While inhaling oxygen from a small tank, he could usually be seen with his anti-abortion signs outside schools, the library, city hall, even football games.

Video: Man charged in anti-abortion activist murder

On Friday morning, Pouillon was in his usual place across the street from the high school, holding a sign that pictured a chubby-cheeked baby with the word "LIFE" on one side and an image of an aborted fetus with the word "ABORTION" on the other. Authorities allege Drake pulled up to him in a truck and opened fire.

Flowers marked the spot Saturday where Pouillon was shot. A note said, "May you rest now."

Chief assistant prosecutor Sara Edwards said there didn't appear to be a "triggering event" but Pouillon's presence outside the school seemed to aggravate Drake. It was "the fact that he was outside the high school with his signs in front of children going to school," she said.

Drake then drove seven miles and down a dead-end country road to Fuoss Gravel Co. and killed Fuoss, 61, who owned the business, said Shiawassee County Sheriff George Braidwood. The two men knew each other, but authorities didn't detail what may have led to his slaying.

Someone wrote down Drake's license plate number after Pouillon's shooting and called police, who said they arrested him before he could fulfill a plan to kill Howe.

Drake's stepmother, Susan Drake, said his family was in disbelief.

"I don't know what to say. He was a big, gentle giant," she told The Flint Journal on Saturday. "He has a heart as big as gold."

She said she's known her stepson for half his life. He didn't use drugs or alcohol and never showed signs of an emotional breakdown, she said.

"I've called his mother and his wife, and they're nauseated," she said. "Nobody knows why this happened."

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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