Family of Mich. shooting suspect cites depressionOWOSSO, Mich. (AP) — Relatives of a Michigan man charged with fatally shooting two people, including a well-known local abortion protester, said in a statement Monday that he had battled depression and was experiencing problems with his medications.
OWOSSO, Mich. (AP) — Relatives of a Michigan man charged with fatally shooting two people, including a well-known local abortion protester, said in a statement Monday that he had battled depression and was experiencing problems with his medications.
Harlan Drake's family also does not believe the killings were a political statement or acts of revenge and called him ``a gentle giant, who has no history of violence and no criminal history whatsoever,' according to the statement issued by an attorney on behalf of Drake's wife, mother and brother.
Drake, 33, is charged with first-degree murder in the fatal shootings Friday of anti-abortion activist James Pouillon and businessman Mike Fuoss. Investigators have said Drake was angered by a graphic sign Pouillon carried while protesting near a high school and that he apparently held a ``grudge' against Fuoss and a third intended victim.
``We do not feel these tragic killings were premeditated, a political statement regarding pro life or pro abortion factions, or out of a grudge,' said the family's statement issued by attorney Gerry Mason of Port Huron, Mich.
Mason said Monday night that he had been asked to help Drake's family while they waited for a court-appointed lawyer to be named to the case. He said he would not be representing Drake.
The statement did not offer further details and repeated messages seeking comment from family members have gone unanswered.
``We have been overwhelmed by sadness and emotion as we try to understand what happened and why,' the statement said.
Authorities said Drake was treated at a hospital following a suicide attempt in jail during the weekend.
Drake shattered a television and used the broken glass to cut his arm Saturday, said Sheriff George Braidwood. Drake was treated at a hospital and returned to the jail that night.
``Since then he's been fine. He's been cooperative. He's been very passive,' Braidwood said.
Investigators seized eight firearms from his truck and home and 10,000 rounds of ammunition, said Mike Compeau, Owosso's public safety director.
``It was ammunition for the guns — 22s, shotguns — no assault rifles or anything like that,' said Compeau, adding there was no evidence Drake was planning a larger assault.
Pouillon, 63, was a well-known abortion protester in Owosso, 70 miles northwest of Detroit. He was gunned down in a drive-by shooting near the high school. Authorities say Drake was angered by the graphic image of an aborted fetus.
Fuoss, 61, was subsequently shot at his gravel company, just outside Owosso. Investigators say Drake's mother once worked there, but they're not certain how that fits into a possible motive.
Authorities say Drake disclosed plans to pursue a third man, real-estate agent James Howe. Drake's mother also had worked with Howe.
Owosso Public Schools has agreed to allow the Pouillon family to hold a public memorial service Wednesday afternoon at Willman Field, the district's football stadium, because the event was expected to draw a large crowd.
Pouillon's family will pay any expenses, said Rick Mowen, a school board member and owner of Mowen Funeral Home.
``It's strictly a showing of compassion by the district,' he said of the decision to use the stadium. ``It's not an endorsement of Mr. Pouillon's views.'
Interim school superintendent, Susan Wooden, received some phone calls Monday criticizing the choice of location. She said the district has a longstanding policy allowing the community to use its properties.
``There are some people that are fine with that and some people who are disappointed. I'll leave it at that,' Wooden said. ``I would just ask that those who attend please respect the rights of all those present to peacefully express their views and condolences.'
The anti-abortion group Operation Rescue, of which Pouillon was a member, said in a statement that a gathering was planned after the service outside a local Planned Parenthood clinic. The clinic does not perform abortions but makes referrals, according to its Web site.
``We have the occasional protester; Mr. Pouillon was one of them. We will take measures to ensure all of our patients are safe,' said Lori Lamerand, president of Planned Parenthood of East Central Michigan.
A private funeral service for Pouillon was held Monday, to be followed by cremation. Fuoss' service will be held Tuesday at Nelson-House Funeral Home in Owosso, followed by burial in Chelsea.