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James Edward POUGH






A.K.A.: "Pop"
Classification: Mass murderer
Characteristics: Revenge
Number of victims: 12
Date of murders: 1971 / June 17-18, 1990
Date of birth: 1948
Victims profile: David Pender / Louis Carl Bacon (pimp) and Doretta Drake (prostitute) / Nine employees and customers 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 socialized anymore.

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 the office.

First attacks

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.

GMAC massacre

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


GMAC massacre

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 hurt, 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 slaying sunday

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' calls detail Florida massacre

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 Sunday.


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

Jacksonville bloodbath

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 system contractor.

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 police work."

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 Lonnie Webster.

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 were trapped.

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 dead."

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 desk."

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 (10)

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."



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