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James Edward Pough
James Edward Pough
Background information
Birth name James Edward Pough
Occupation Day laborer
Born (1948-02-16)February 16, 1948
Jacksonville, Florida, United States

June 18, 1990(1990-06-18) (aged 42)
Jacksonville, Florida, United States

Cause of death Suicide
Attack information
Date June 17/18, 1990
Location(s) Jacksonville, Florida, United States
Killed 11
Injured 6
Weapon(s) .38-caliber revolver
Universal M1 Carbine

James Edward "Pop" Pough (February 16, 1948 – June 18, 1990) was an American day laborer, who killed nine people and wounded four others at a General Motors Acceptance Corporation car loan office in Jacksonville, Florida, United States on June 18, 1990, before committing suicide. The day before he had already killed a prostitute and her pimp, wounded two teenagers, and robbed a convenience store.

The shooting at the GMAC office 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.[1]


Pough, who was born on February 16, 1948 in Jacksonville, Florida and was the first of nine children, grew up in an area near the Florida Community College. As a child Pough suffered from asthma and he had a close relationship to his mother, whom he helped out a lot after his father had left the family in 1959. He attended a vocational school, but dropped out in his sophomore year. At the age of 18 he began working as a common laborer, which he stayed until his death, though he earned a reputation as a very reliable worker and his business agent would later describe him as one of their best, somebody who was never late. During the last year of his life he was doing construction maintenance at a brewery.

According to former schoolmates Pough had affiliations with gangs during his time at school. He was arrested twice in 1965 for vagrancy, and twice again in 1966, once for attempted robbery and a second time for assault for murder, after attacking a construction worker who owed him a quarter. In 1968 Pough was arrested for dangerously displaying a knife and was fined $75, and in July 1969 he was fined $10 after being charged for gambling. In 1970 he was arrested, but not prosecuted, for motor vehicle theft and vagrancy-prowling by auto.

On May 8, 1971 Pough got into an argument with his best friend, David Lee Pender, who had called his girlfriend a bitch. In the following scuffle Pough grabbed a .38-caliber pistol from his girlfriend's purse and shot Pender three times, who eventually died in hospital. According to relatives he never managed to get over the fact that he had killed his friend. Pough was initially charged with murder, though the charge was later reduced to manslaughter. In the end he plead guilty to aggravated assault and was sentenced to five years probation, but the judgment of guilty was withheld by the court subject to the successful completion of probation.[2] 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 never forwarded 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. In 1977 Pough was twice in court being charged for bad debt. There was also an outstanding warrant for his arrest in a 1982 employment compensation fraud case.

In December 1988 Pough traded his old car for a 1988 Pontiac Grand Am, though he soon had difficulties to make his payments, so in January 1990 the car was voluntarily repossessed by GMAC. 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 Universal M1 carbine at a local pawnshop.

Pough, 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. 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 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 withdrew even more and rarely socialized anymore.[3][4][5][6][7]

First attacksEdit

Pough started his killing spree in the night of June 17 at about 12:50 a.m. Armed with his M1 carbine 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, killed Louis Carl Bacon, a pimp, with two shots in the chest and left. 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, Pough stepped out of his Buick and killed her with a single shot to the head, again from the M1 Carbine, 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.[3][4][1]

Later that morning Pough entered a convenience store, threatened the clerk with a pistol and, stating that he doesn't have anything to lose, demanded all the money. After getting what he had asked for he left again.[7]

GMAC massacreEdit

GMAC Rescue

Rescue workers carrying one of the victims from the building.

On the morning of June 18 he visited his mother's grave a 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. 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 his pockets packed with ammunition, and, without saying a word, immediately began shooting with the M1 carbine at two customers at the front counter. Julia Burgess was killed and 25-year-old David Hendrix was wounded by four shots. 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, 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 and Nancy Dill. 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 rifle, hitting 11 of the 85 workers at the office, as well as the two customers. 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.[3][1][5]

When searching Pough's car police recovered a loaded 9-mm 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 already, though they found a calendar with two dates circled in red: May 8, the day he killed his friend Pender, and June 18.[7]


  • Louis Carl Bacon, 39, shot on June 17
  • Doretta Drake, 30, shot on June 17
  • Jewell Belote, 50, died on June 27
  • 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

Among those wounded were:

  • Lynette Patrice Johnson, 18, shot in the shoulder on June 17
  • Christopher Jerome Shorter, 17, shot in the shoulder on June 17
  • Nancy Dill
  • Ron Echevarria
  • Phyllis Griggs
  • David Hendrix, 25


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Man kills self, 8 others at loan office, The Gainesville Sun (June 19, 1990)
  2. Officials puzzled over Pough, The Gainesville Sun (June 24, 1990)
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Florida Gunman Kills 8 And Wounds 6 in Office, The New York Times (June 19, 1990)
  4. 4.0 4.1 Hazy Records Helped Florida Gunman Buy Arms, The New York Times (June 20, 1990)
  5. 5.0 5.1 911 tapes reveal workers' terror, The Gainesville Sun (June 20, 1990)
  6. Police still seek motive in massacre, The Gainesville Sun (June 21, 1990)
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Manselsberg, Rose G. (ed.): Mass Murderers: From the Files of True Detective Magazine; Pinnacle, 1993 (p. 163-180). ISBN 978-1558177772

External linksEdit

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