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Gun shop owner refuses to sell gun to eligible customer, possibly prevents mass shooting

CBS News

Plans for a possible mass shooting may have been foiled, thanks to an alert gun shop owner in Ohio.

John Downs makes his living selling guns, but he may have saved lives by turning down a customer, reports CBS News correspondent Adriana Diaz.

"He kind of had his finger on the trigger like he was going to, you know, use it," Downs said.

Last Monday, 25-year-old James Howard withdrew from his classes at Ohio University and allegedly assaulted an assistant hockey coach. Then he drove 30 minutes to Downs's Bait & Guns store. Although Howard had passed a background check, Downs refused to sell him a rifle.

"Just the look in his eye... there was something about him," Downs said. "I don't know. You really can't explain it. He was going to do something. He was going to do something."

Howard returned to the gun shop later that day, but Downs locked the door and asked a customer to call 911.

Hocking County Sheriff's deputies located Howard's car one mile away at a Walmart. A gun was found in the back seat.

"When we arrived, he had almost 50 rounds of 20-gauge shot gun shell ammunition ready to purchase," Sheriff Lanny North said.

According to the Athens County prosecutor, "Howard was found in possession of a firearm while allegedly being drug dependent or in danger of becoming drug dependent. The firearm was purchased after he allegedly made a false statement on his background check form."

North believes Downs probably saved lives.

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