Victim didn’t know man charged in shooting

May 4, 2019 GMT

HUNTINGTON — The father of a man who remains in critical condition after police said he was shot by a former Huntington City Council member and mayoral candidate doesn’t believe the two men knew each other.

Ron McDowell Jr., 38, remained at Cabell Huntington Hospital on Friday, where he has been since the April 27 shooting left him fighting for his life, said Ron McDowell Sr., his father.

Police said Thomas Scott McCallister, 78, shot Ron McDowell Jr. in the neck at approximately 4:10 p.m. near McCallister’s home in the 400 block of West 3rd Street. Witnesses reported Ron McDowell Jr. was in an argument and being held at gunpoint by two men, later identified as McCallister and his brother, Johnny McCallister.


Tom McCallister is facing one charge of malicious wounding. A preliminary hearing scheduled Friday in Cabell County Magistrate Court was rescheduled to May 10.

Ron McDowell Jr. is paralyzed on the right side of his face and paralyzed from the waist down, his father said. He remains hooked to a ventilator while doctors periodically work with him to get him breathing on his own. So far, he has only been removed from the ventilator for several hours at a time, Ron McDowell Sr. said.

“He was running a fever last night to 102 degrees. They got it back down to 100, and right now it’s down to 99,” he said. “There’s bullet fragments in him. They can’t run an MRI because of the bullet fragments.”

Doctors have indicated Ron McDowell Jr. will likely need a ventilator for the rest of his life and will be permanently paralyzed. Doctors are taking it day by day, Ron McDowell Sr. said.

He’s not sure what happened the day of the shooting and police have not contacted the family, he said. The family doesn’t believe their son had any prior run-ins with Tom McCallister.

“My ex-wife was reading his lips and was asking him if he knew him,” he said. “She said he said, ‘No.’”

Ron McDowell Sr. said his son called him that morning and told him he and another man would be doing work to a retaining wall somewhere on Huntington’s West End.

“He told me, ‘I’ll call you back this evening, Dad,’” he said. “That never happened.”

He said his son, originally from Ashland, was staying in Huntington to get treatment at a methadone clinic. His son was staying clear of illegal drugs and the clinic was testing him each visit as a requirement for treatment.

“I still don’t understand what escalated to cause this,” Ron McDowell Sr. said.

Tom McCallister was a City Council member representing District 2 from 2001 to 2004. He unsuccessfully ran on the Republican ticket against Huntington Mayor Steve Williams, a Democrat, in the 2016 general election. Johnny McCallister is a retired Cabell County magistrate, having left the seat earlier this year following a 50-year career. Tom McCallister previously declined to comment and Johnny McCallister did not return phone calls Friday.

Travis Crum is a reporter for The Herald-Dispatch. He may be reached by phone at 304-526-2801.