In December 1988, James Pough traded his old car for a 1988 Pontiac Grand Am, though he soon had difficulties to make his payments. As a result, the car was voluntarily repossessed by GMAC in January 1990. He received a bill for $6,394 of outstanding fees in March, and again on April 6, which was the last contact between him and the office. About two months prior to the shootings, Pough purchased a M1 carbine at a local pawnshop. James Pough, who was living in a rundown duplex in Jacksonville’s Northwest Quadrant at the time, was known by his neighbors as a quiet and nice man who kept a regular and fixed schedule, but also as someone who would become angry fairly quickly and get engaged in enraged conversations, especially in matters concerning money and his car. Relatives described him as a recluse with no friends. After the death of his mother three years prior to the shootings, Pough was said to have emotionally changed for the worse, saying that he had nothing left to live for and arguing that he would “take someone with him when he leaves this world”. Frequently, he had violent outbursts, which were directed against his wife, Theresa, 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 Pough to get in contact with her for a year. As a consequence, he withdrew even more and rarely socialized.
James Pough started his killing spree in the night of June 17 at about 12:50 a.m. Armed with his M1 carbine, which was wrapped in a blanket, he walked up to a group of men standing at a street corner in the northwest section of Jacksonville, not far from his home, and killed Louis Carl Bacon, a pimp, with two shots in the chest before leaving. A couple of minutes later, he attacked prostitute Doretta Drake, who was chatting with two other women in a vacant parking lot just two blocks from the first crime scene. After hitting Drake with his car, throwing her on the sidewalk, James Pough stepped out of his Buick and killed her with a single shot to the head, again from the M1, before driving away. Police assumed that the reason behind these killings was a failed sex-for-money deal. A short time later, Pough also shot and wounded two youths, 17 and 18 years of age, after asking them for directions. Later, on the morning of June 18, Pough entered a convenience store, threatened the clerk with a pistol and, stating that he didn’t have anything to lose, demanded all of the money in the register. After getting the money he left.
After robbing the convenience store, he visited his mother’s grave one last time, and then called his supervisor that he wouldn’t come to work because he had something else to do. At about 10:44 a.m., James Pough parked his car at the General Motors Acceptance Corporation office located at 7870 Baymeadows Way in Jacksonville. He entered the building through the front door, armed with his M1 carbine, a .38-caliber revolver, several loaded magazines, and ammunition packed in his pockets. Then, without saying a word, he immediately began shooting with the M1 carbine at two customers at the front counter, killing Julia Burgess and wounding David Hendrix with four shots. Walking through the open office, he then systematically moved from desk to desk and shot at the GMAC workers, deliberately aiming at those hiding under their desks. Drew Woods was the first to be shot at his desk, followed by Cynthia Perry and Barbara Holland nearby, as well as 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 shooting at those ducking for cover. GMAC employees Janice David, Sharon Hall, Jewell Belote, Lee Simonton, Denise Highfill, Ron Echevarria, and Nancy Dill were also shot. He then put the .38-caliber revolver to his head and committed suicide. In just about two minutes, Pough had fired at least 28 rounds from his carbine, hitting 11 of the 85 workers in the office, as well as the two customers. Six of his victims 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. When searching Pough’s car, police recovered a loaded 9mm pistol, two magazines, and ammunition, as well as twelve pieces of nylon rope, each having a length of 24 inches, which led police to the assumption that Pough initially might have intended to take hostages. When police arrived at Pough’s home, it had been ransacked, although they found a calendar with two dates circled in red: May 8, the day he killed his friend Pender, and June 18.
- February, 16, 1948
- Jacksonville, Florida
- June, 18, 1990
- Jacksonville, Florida
Cause of Death
- suicide by gunshot