IONIA, Mich. WOOD) - The man whose wife and mother were in his car during a road-rage shootout was shot three times before he returned fire, Ionia County's prosecutor told 24 Hour News 8.
Robert Taylor, 56, fired first from point-blank range, shooting five times, hitting James Pullum, 43, twice in the chest and once in the left arm, Prosecutor Ron Schafer said. He believes Taylor was armed with a .22-caliber handgun.
He said Pullum, believed to be armed with a 9 mm handgun, then fired five times, striking Taylor once in the upper chest.
Both men died later at the hospital.
Police say it was Taylor who was tail-gating Pullum and followed him into the parking lot of the Wonder Wand Car Wash in Ionia just before 7 p.m. Wednesday.
The prosecutor says they both got out of their vehicles and argued, nearly toe-to-toe.
What's not clear, he said, is who pulled out his gun first. Both were licensed to carry concealed pistols.
"One thing that is clear is that if one of these or both of these individuals felt that their life was in immediate danger, they have the legal authority to act," Schafer said.
Michigan, he said, is a "stand-your-ground state."
"We don't know yet the sequence of events and what happened here," Schafer said. "It could be entirely accurate that one party's at fault. It could be entirely accurate that neither party's at fault. We simply don't know. The investigation is still open."
Or, he said, it could be that both are at fault.
"If there's something that we can take out of this, it would be that nothing good is going to happen when two individuals stop and confront each other."
"There are ways to protect yourself and prevent this type of situation, No. 1 being, don't stop the vehicle. No. 2, drive to maybe a law enforcement agency. No. 3, call 911. And certainly don't get out of your car if you're stuck in that situation."
Pullum's wife, Teri Pullum, who was in the car with her husband and Pullum's mother, has told 24 Hour News 8 that Taylor was the aggressor and that her husband was protecting himself and his family.
"He was riding our butt," Pullum told 911 dispatchers moments after the shootout. "They got in a fight and the guy pulled a gun on him."
Schafer described Taylor as a gun enthusiast who owned hundreds of guns and often showed up at the Ionia Public Safety Department to register them -- sometimes weekly. But, he said, he was never seen as a threat.
The prosecutor on Friday confirmed that the Ionia County gun board revoked Taylor's concealed weapons permit in 2006 over a drunken driving conviction. Taylor had a blood-alcohol level of 0.19 (super drunk under today's law) and a loaded 9 mm handgun within his reach.
Schafer, who is chairman of the Ionia County gun board, was in charge of the board back then.
By law, it was revoked for three years. Then, four years after the conviction, Taylor asked for it back.
"He has the one conviction from 2006, no other criminal history, and as you know we're a shall-issue state, and the gun board was required to give him a CCW permit at that time," Schafer said. "There's no 'out' for the gun board and frankly, looking at this today, there would be no red flags."
However, Schafer said he wishes the board had discretion.
"It's hard to say (whether Taylor would have gotten his license back)" Schafer said. "I'm only one vote of three on the gun board. I can tell you there would certainly have been more scrutiny given to the license."
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