According to Pearl River County authorities, a gun shop owner and his 17-year-old son were shot and killed in a shootout on Saturday afternoon with two customers — another man and his 29-year-old son — over a $25 service charge.
The two customers were hospitalized after being injured in the shooting that occurred at a gun store in Pearl River County’s Henleyfield community, according to local authorities.
Pearl River County Sheriff David Allison told WLOX that Jason McLemore, 44, owner of McLemore Gun Shop in Pearl County, Mississippi, and his son Jacob McLemore, 17, were shot and killed on Saturday afternoon following a dispute with two customers, Andy McCool, 52, and his son Michael McCool, 29, over a $25 fee for repair of a gun.
Allison said that McLemore’s wife was at the store when Andy McCool and his son entered at about 3:15 p.m. to pick up a handgun that was in for repairs. The men reportedly became angry with McLemore’s wife over a $25 service charge after they learned that the weapon had not been repaired.
According to Sheriff Allison, McLemore’s wife called her husband to deal with the customers. After Jason McLemore and his 17-year-old son Jacob came to the shop, an altercation ensued. The altercation between the shop owner and the customers over the $25 service charge soon escalated into physical violence, and guns were drawn.
“During this argument, we believe there might have been some pushing and shoving. One of the customers and one of the owners produced firearms. We don’t know who shot first,” Chief Deputy Shane Tucker told the Sun Herald.
Investigators were uncertain who started the shooting but it was alleged that Michael McCool, 29, shot McLemore and his son with a 40-caliber pistol. Pearl River County deputies who responded to a call that there was shooting at the gun shop found McLemore and his son dead.
The customers reportedly sustained life-threatening injuries.
According to WLOX, the older McCool was apparently shot in the back. Responding officers reportedly found him walking around bleeding from a wound in the back.
McCool and his son were airlifted to the hospital. The younger McCool was taken to the University Hospital in New Orleans and was in a stable condition at intensive care. His father Andy was receiving treatment at Forrest General Hospital in Mississippi.
Police said they were investigating to determine how an altercation over a $25 service charge developed into a shootout before filing charges. But it appeared that the older McLemore had placed an unholstered handgun by his side as the altercation with his customers developed. It was uncertain whether he used the weapon.
However, Sheriff Allison confirmed that all four men involved in the altercation received gunshot wounds, and when Pearl River County deputies arrived at the gun shop after 3:15 p.m., McLemore and his son were found dead.
Mrs. McLemore was not wounded.
The incident sparked a furious online debate, pitting gun rights advocates against gun control advocates. Gun control advocates cited the incident as yet another demonstration of the risks of widespread ownership of firearms.
A gun control advocate commented on Sun Herald, “Justifications for giving everyone guns gets a little bit dumber every time something like this happens… Maybe you should be asking your fellow gun lovers to stop acting like such stupid morons and maybe someday we could just give everyone guns without a worry. But until then, stop blaming the people who care about lives more than guns.”
Gun rights advocates objected to the arguments by gun control advocates. A few tried to blame President Obama for the incident.
Most gun rights advocates, though, simply argued that law-abiding gun owners could not be blamed for the misbehavior of a few and that gun ownership is a constitutional right.
[Image via Augustas Didžgalvis/Wikimedia Commons]