IONIA, Mich. (WOOD) - The wife of one of two men shot and killed during a road-rage shootout says her husband fired his gun in self-defense.
Teri Pullum, wife of Jim Pullum, told 24 Hour News 8 that she, her husband and another relative were headed home from a restaurant Wednesday night.
She said they were pulling into the Wonder Wand Car Wash to get a car wash, that the other man was the aggressor and that her husband was trying to protect himself and his family.
She didn't want to go into details, but police said that one car was tailgating the other, leading to the road rage.
A witness said she heard as many as eight shots.
Police identified the other man as Robert Taylor, 56, also of Ionia.
Records show both men had permits to carry concealed pistols -- among more than 510,000 in Michigan.
But Ionia District Court records obtained by 24 Hour News 8 show Taylor was accused of violating that permit in 2006 when Ionia police arrested him for drunk driving and found a loaded 9 mm handgun within his reach.
He pleaded guilty to drunk driving, while the weapons charge was dismissed.
Records show Taylor asked the judge to order the Ionia Public Safety Department to return his gun at least twice in writing. The judge at first refused.
"This should've been referred to the gun board," the judge is quoted in court records as saying. "It's up to them."
The judge said he would order the gun returned if Taylor finished probation and "if the gun board doesn't revoke his license."
It's not clear what happened.
On Thursday, those who knew both shooters said the shootout did not fit either man.
"I have no reason to believe he would be an aggressor," Bill King said of Taylor, his neighbor of more than 20 years. He said Taylor was retired and often helped his wife with the garden. The drunk driving conviction was the only blemish on his record.
"He was a very good neighbor, very, very helpful, always there if you needed a hand with anything, an all-around good guy."
Pullum, 43, was married, had a daughter and ran an auto mechanics shop just east of Ionia. He had no criminal record.
"A long-time customer, good friend, jokester, just all-around good guy, you know?" said Cody Schwab, of Class A Auto Parts. "It's hard to believe. I can't even grasp it. It's unreal."
He said he'd never seen Pullum get mad.
"He's not an agitator; he's not an instigator; he's not that type of person, so whatever was said and whatever was done to fuel the fire to get to something that serious..."
Friends said Pullum got his permit to carry a concealed permit about a year and a half ago, and that he carried for protection.
"It's there, for reassurance, kind of like a guard, a shield," Schwab said. "When it was on him, it was in his waist, concealed. He didn't advertise it, he didn't flaunt it, he didn't brag, 'Tough guy, I've got a gun.' It was nothing like that, didn't have to. He wasn't that type of person."
Police said they were still trying to pin down details.
"What took two people on the road, who I don't believe knew each other, just traveling down the road, what was it that drove them to the point that they got so angry they felt that they needed to confront each other?" said Ionia County Sheriff Dale Miller, whose department is assisting with the investigation.
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