How This Gun Store Owner Saved Lives
But one Ohio sheriff is crediting a gun store owner with preventing a mass shooting at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. John Downs, who owns Downs Bait and Guns, was working the counter in his store when a man came in to buy a gun. Downs was about to sell the gun and even had the customer cleared through a background. But Downs was asking a few questions and after the customer made some statements that Downs thought was suspicious, he refused to sell him the gun.
The customer made some threats towards Downs and left the store. The angry customer, James Howard, came back an hour and a half later. Here’s what happened next according to Fox 28:
Deputies said Howard returned to the store about an hour and a half later, so Downs called 911. "I had some customers in here, put them all in a back room and I locked the door, turned the light out and shut my open sign off."
Sheriff North said they tracked Howard to a nearby Walmart where he was buying "survival gear and an enormous amount of ammunition." North said it tells him that Howard had something sinister in mind,"something that was going to take a lot of lives. Apparently he was frustrated about something that happened at OU in Athens." Howard is a former Ohio University student and hockey player.
Deputies said Howard was purchasing camouflage clothing, gloves, and ammunition when he was arrested without incident at Walmart.
They conducted a search warrant on Howard's car and said they found " a .22 Caliber rifle, multiple receipts, miscellaneous paperwork involving medical and mental health." Authorities said Howard had purchased another weapon at an Athens gun store.
Howard had left Ohio University after shoving an assistant hockey coach earlier in the week. It is unclear what the altercation was about. Deputies had evidence that Howard was trying to plan to escape after an attack.
Howard is still being held in jail, as of writing.