When 23-year-old Preston Pollard of Venus, Texas, learned that his 18-year-old former girlfriend wouldn’t be joining him in Texas for Christmas, police say that he drove 15 hours to Marion Oaks, Florida, to settle things up with his ex-girlfriend’s family, according to a Dec. 29 report from USA Today. When Pollard arrived at the Florida home of his ex-girlfriend early on Christmas morning, police say that when the door opened, Pollard just started shooting.
When the shooting ended, Pollard’s former girlfriend’s father, 36-year-old Richard Hutson, had been shot dead. Hutson’s wife, Mary Lou Hutson, 55, survived the hail of bullets, but was shot and then transported to the hospital in critical condition. After shooting the Hutsons, Pollard fled the scene. Police spotted his car traveling on I-10 in Okaloosa County, Florida. And that’s when Pollard took his own life.
The shooter had previously lived with his former girlfriend and her family in Florida. He had purchased an airline ticket for his former girlfriend to join him in Texas for Christmas. When he found out she wasn’t coming, Pollard’s father said that his son drove to Florida to pick her up personally. When Pollard arrived and started shooting, the former girlfriend was home but managed to get herself and three younger children that were in the house into a bathroom where they all survived the shootings unharmed. Police believe that Mary Lou Hutson, who suffered four gunshot wounds and still survived, was Pollard’s primary target.
“The shooter went up to the house, said Lauren Lettelier, Marion County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman. “They opened the door and he started shooting.” ~ The Panama City News Herald
After police in Florida learned the identity of the shooter, deputies with the Ellis County Sheriff’s Office arrived at Pollard’s Texas home, where they met Pollard’s father, Stephen Pollard. When deputies asked about his son’s whereabouts, the elder Pollard “then called his son, who said he was driving about an hour away in Weatherford, Texas, and would be home soon.” But when the dad tried calling his son later and got no answer, he could sense that something was horribly wrong. The father later learned that his son had shot and killed himself when Florida’s Highway Patrol Officers began closing in on him.
“I know my son. That’s not him,” said Stephen Pollard, Preston Pollard’s father. “He was not a mean person.”
As far as the father knew, his son and his former girlfriend were still together. Pollard’s father is still trying to come to grips with his son’s Christmas morning shootings. According to the younger Pollard’s Facebook page, he had just completed basic training with the U.S. Air Force.