Saturday, January 29, 2011

Man killed at Yazoo County dog fight: Family speaks out

By Julie Straw, WLBT

A Jackson man was killed during a dog fight in rural Yazoo County Saturday.  His family spoke out about his life and death.  Forty-three- year old Earl Riptoe loved to breed big dogs.  He gave two Pitbull Terrier, Great Dane, Neopolitan Mastiff mixes to his sister.  Sonja Riptoe claimed he never used the dogs for fighting, but did attend a dog fight in rural Yazoo County Friday night.
"He thought he could make a wager, a quick wager, make some money or something," said Sonja Riptoe.
According to Coroner Ricky Shivers, Sheriff's deputies responded to reports of shots fired in the east part of the county around midnight. Shivers said deputies came across a car in Benton and made the driver pull over. In the back seat investigators found Earl Riptoe fatally shot.
"The direction in which they were going was in the opposite direction of the hospital. We believe they were attempting to dispose of his body," said Sonja Riptoe.
She said her family received 30 of calls from people on the scene.  She was told about 150 people were at the dog fight. The man who shot her brother and the people in the car were longtime friends.
The Yazoo County Sheriff's Department would not give any information to WLBT.
"Maybe the people that go to these types of events are hardened by them to the point they don't really consider human life as much as they would an animals life," said Sonja Riptoe.
A dog fighting ring was discovered in Copiah County two months ago and another in Warren County back in October. Now a felony cruelty bill is being introduced to state lawmakers that would create tougher penalties for people who harm cats and dogs.
"He could take his life, but he could not take his memories from us. That is something we'll always have," said Sonja Riptoe.

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