A gun store owner refused to sell a rifle to a customer because of a “bad feeling” the owner had about the customer. As it turns out, it was a good thing, because the customer was planning on using the firearm in a violent crime.
The customer – identified as 25-year-old and former Ohio University student James Howard – came into Downs Bait and Guns in Athens, Ohio and wanted to purchase a rifle. Even though Howard passed a background check, the gun store owner John Downs didn’t want to sell a firearm to the man.
“The look on his face, his eyes. I just knew something was wrong,” Downs told WBNS. “I said, ‘I can’t sell you the gun… I got a bad feeling about this, and I’m not going to sell it to you.’”
Predictably, the customer reacted angrily and stormed out the store. That’s when the owner called the police. WBNS provided some background on the incident and suspect in question:
The Ohio University Police Department says the incident started on campus Monday morning at the Bird Ice Arena.
Officers say 25-year-old James Howard entered the arena and forced his way into the Assistant Hockey Coach’s office, while attempting to hit him.
OUPD immediately issued warrants for Howard’s arrest and believed he had fled Athens County.
OUPD says Howard told a friend he was going to buy a gun. The former OU student drove 30 minutes north to Downs Bait and Guns.
In addition, police stated that James Howard had a history of mental illness and had been involuntarily admitted to a mental health facility in the past.
On Monday, James Howard was arrested following the call the gun store owner made to the police. He was charged with burglary and possession of weapons under a disability. Police credit the gun store owner with preventing what could have been a tragedy.