John Downs (pictured above), owner of Downs Bait and Guns, is being praised after he may have stopped the nation’s next mass shooting at a university.
James Howard, a former Ohio University hockey player, came into Downs’ gun shop looking to purchase a long gun. He passed the background check, but Downs refused to sell Howard the gun because it sounded as if Howard was planning on hurting himself or others. Downs explained what he told Howard, “I just said, you know what, bud, I have a really bad feeling about this. I just can’t sell you the gun.” Howard left the store angry and then returned later. After Howard left Downs called 911 and turned off the store’s “open” sign, loaded three guns and told his customers to hide.
Hocking County Sheriff’s Office Sheriff Lanny North stated, “From what I know of the circumstances, I believe he did prevent a mass shooting that was probably going to occur at (Ohio University) in Athens. He had an enormous amount of ammunition he was going to purchase, shotgun shells and 22-caliber rifle ammunition.”
Ohio University Police Chief Andrew Powers said that Howard withdrew from the university on Monday, the same day that he went to purchase the gun; Howard also shoved an assistant hockey coach that day as well. He was arrested later that day at a nearby Walmart trying to purchase camouflage clothing, gloves and ammunition.