A "gentle" pro-life activist who was well known in his town for his anti-abortion displays was gunned down Friday, sparking a wave of statements from several of the nation's leading pro-life groups.
"We are shocked at this senseless violence against a peaceful man," commented Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women for America (CWA). "Jim Pouillon sincerely lived out his belief that babies have the right to be born. He dedicated his life to convincing others to reject the violence of abortion. It is a tragedy upon tragedy that a peaceful man who tried to end violence was himself violently killed."
According to authorities, Pouillon of Owosso, Mich., was one of three people that Harlan James Drake, 33, had planned to kill, apparently for different reasons. Police arrested Drake after he had killed Pouillion and 61-year-old gravel pit owner Mike Fuoss. Authorities believe they stopped a third killing by catching up with Drake before he could strike again.
"The defendant had ill will toward these three individuals - not for the same reason necessarily, but had a grudge," said Shiawassee County Prosecutor Randy Colbry, according to The Associate Press.
When Drake gunned down Pouillon, the long-time prolife activist was situated across the street from Owosso High School alongside a sign with a picture of a chubby-cheeked baby and the word "LIFE" one side and an image of an aborted fetus and the word "ABORTION" on the other. Pouillon was a well-known activist in the town of 15,000 who often had one-man demonstrations outside area schools and city hall.
"Jim was completely non-violent and never condoned using violence," commented Cal Zastrow, co-founder of Personhood USA, who described Pouillon as a "peaceful pro-life Christian" and "close friend."
"I knew him very well and had prayed and ministered with him often. He was praying and holding a poster of a newborn baby outside of Owosso High School. One of the students in the school was his granddaughter," Zastrow added.
Following the incident, leaders of the pro-life movement nationwide condemned the killing and urged Attorney General Eric Holder and members of the pro-choice community to vigorously denounce the murder as they had done following the murder of late-term abortionist George Tiller earlier this year.
"We denounce this senseless act of violence in the strongest terms, and pray that this murderer will be swiftly brought to justice," said Operation Rescue President Troy Newman.
"The taking of all innocent lives must stop," added Fr. Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life. "I call on the leaders of the so called 'pro-choice' movement to condemn this killing and to consider all of the people who lose their lives to abortion every single day."
A memorial and prayer vigil had been planned for Sunday at 3 p.m. at Owosso High School, where close friends will gather to grieve, pray, and remember the life of Pouillon.
Pouillon will also be honored during a prayer vigil at the Capitol that he reportedly had planned to attend.
The 27-hour prayer vigil, which was scheduled to begin on Sunday at 7:30 p.m. ET, is part of a national campaign called "Abortion is Not Health Care."
"May his life and tragic death encourage all of us to work for an end to all of the violence, particularly violence against the pre-born babies that Jim gave his life to defend," commented Zastrow.