Monday, July 19, 2010

Elgin police shoot, kill attacking pit bull

By Lenore T. Adkins, Daily Herald

A veteran Elgin police officer over the weekend shot and killed a pit bull that police say jumped at him with its mouth wide open.
Meanwhile, the dog's owner, Faustino Gonzalez, 53, of the 500 block of Walnut Street, has been arrested on an obstructing justice charge for ignoring countless police commands to restrain his dog named Snoopy, Lt. Glenn Theriault said.
Gonzalez has also been cited under a series of new local laws meant to crack down on people who don't control their dogs.
At 6:39 p.m. Saturday, police were called to Gonzalez's home in the 500 block of Walnut Street on a report of a loose pit bull.
Officers arrived and Gonzalez, seated in a chair in front of his garage with several beers, got up and put Snoopy in a fenced area.
That should have been the end of it.
But 58 minutes later, police were again dispatched to Gonzalez's house for the same reason.
According to Theriault:
Officers arrived and said Snoopy was running loosed outside the house.
As two officers got out of the squad car, he ran at both officers and they got back into their squad until he ran to the driveway. Officers told Gonzalez 15 times to secure his dog, and each time he refused. He finally asked police to back away while he grabbed Snoopy by the collar and led him to a cage. But instead of putting the dog in the cage, Gonzalez slammed the door shut and released the dog at the officers.
Snoopy leapt at Officer Michael Sullivan, a 10-year-veteran, and he shot Snoopy midair three times. The dog ran to the backyard, where he was shot one final time because he was still "alive and aggressive," Theriault said.
Snoopy's body was later taken to Dundee Animal Hospital Dog because he was not wearing rabies tags.
Gonzalez was cited for having a dog at large, for providing no proof of its rabies inoculation, for not putting tags on Snoopy and for the dog exhibiting aggressive behavior.
Gonzalez will face the dog citations Aug. 24 at the Elgin Branch Court. He is due in court Aug. 6 in Elgin on the obstruction charge and is now being held on an Immigration and Customs Enforcement warrant as a previously deported felon, Theriault said.
The department is running an internal review of the shooting to determine whether it was justified. "Any time a weapon is discharged, the case is reviewed," Theriault said.
Saturday's incident marked the third police pit bull shooting of 2010.

Update July 19, 2010 9:05pm - The following article is by Emily McFarlen, The Courier-News:

Elgin cop shoots, kills attacking pit bull

Elgin police shot and killed a pit bull that reportedly leapt at an officer with its mouth open Saturday. And that was just the first of two pit bull attacks in the city since this weekend, police said.
"I don't know if it's just our attention is drawn toward these attacks or if there has been an increase," Elgin Police Lt. Glenn Theriault said.
"But it has been out of control of late."
On Saturday, police were called just after 6:30 p.m. to the 500 block of Walnut Street on a report of a loose pit bull, Theriault said.
On arrival, the officers found owner Faustino Gonzalez, 53, sitting in a chair in his driveway, surrounded by five or six beer bottles, and the dog, Snoopy, running between Gonzalez's house and a neighbor's, police said. Those officers left after the man put Snoopy into a fenced dog run in his backyard, police said.
But less than an hour later, they were called back to the same house and found the same scene on arrival -- this time with 15 bottles of beer in the driveway, Theriault said.
The officers remained inside their vehicle after Scooby ran at them, and asked Gonzalez about 15 times to control the dog, he said. Each time, the owner refused, police said.
When Gonzalez did finally grab the pit bull by its collar and pulled it to the dog run, Theriault said he was unsure whether the owner realized when he slammed the door shut, he had left Snoopy on the outside.
That's when police said the dog leapt at one of the officers.
The officer shot one round into the pit bull's underbelly, then another two into its side, police said. After the animal retreated to the backyard, the officer shot it again to put it down, Theriault said.
Gonzalez was charged with having a dog at large and not having rabies tags or inoculations for the animal. He also was charged with having a dangerous dog based on a new, tougher animal control ordinance approved unanimously by the Elgin City Council in March.
The regulations were put in place after a tighter ordinance that was breed-specific to pit bulls was modified to include all dogs that a hearing officer or court deems to be dangerous or vicious.
Gonzalez also was charged with obstructing a police officer and obstructing identification after giving police a false identification. Fingerprint records and his family identified him as a felon who twice has been deported to Mexico, Theriault said.
The dog owner will appear in court Aug. 6 on the obstruction charges and Aug. 24 on the animal charges. Meantime, Immigration and Customs Enforcement also has put a warrant and immigration hold on the man, police said.
On Monday morning, Theriault said Elgin police had a second run-in with a pit bull mix.
A 60-year-old female mail carrier was taken to Provena Saint Joseph Hospital in Elgin with four lacerations to her arm after the dog, named Capone, bit her while she was walking in the 0 to 100 block of Jackson Street, he said. Capone's owner, Osvaldo Isaac, 36, was charged with having a vicious dog; having a dog at large; having a dog that was biting or attacking; and not having tags on the dog.

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