Many questions remain after Hemet dog fatally shot

Warning: Some images could contain graphic content.

HEMET — Many questions remain unanswered after the fatal shooting of a dog inside a Hemet apartment complex yesterday afternoon, Sunday, April 7. According to officials, the dog – a large pit bull-type breed – was running loose inside a complex and became aggressive with a resident and his service dog, at which time the man produced a handgun and shot the dog in self-defense.

Although the owners of the deceased dog have admitted their dog was running loose within the complex, they refuted the claims that their dog was acting aggressively, and have since described their beloved pet as a “big teddy bear,” who “wouldn’t hurt anyone.”

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City of Hemet police officers were dispatched to an apartment building on the 1000 block of Latham Ave., between Laursen and Santa Fe streets, shortly before 12:30 p.m., after receiving a report of shots fired inside the complex.

Moments later, the dog’s owner called 911 and reported a man who lives at the complex had just shot their dog. While officers were still headed to the scene, the man who fired the fatal shot also called 911 to report that he had just killed an aggressive dog that tried to attack him and his service dog outside his apartment.

When officers arrived they found a chaotic scene, with the deceased dog laying on a stairwell landing within the complex. The dog’s body, which appeared to have sustained at least one gunshot injury to its shoulder, was clearly visible from the street, and area residents were later seen talking quietly among themselves and discussing the incident that led to the deadly shooting.

A Hemet police officer surveys the scene of yesterday’s fatal shooting of a pit bull-type breed dog. Officials say the dog was running loose on the property and became aggressive toward a man and his service dog. Miguel Shannon/OC Hawk News photo

Officials called for Animal Control officers to respond to the scene and two officials were later seen carrying the dog’s lifeless body to an Animal Control vehicle.

During their investigation, officers located and recovered at least one spent and fragmented bullet, that was reportedly found near the entrance to the complex, some distance from where the shooting happened.

Officers were later observed walking a handcuffed man from the complex and he was transported to Hemet PD for further questioning by officers investigating the incident. Officers also reportedly took custody of two weapons, described as a Remington shotgun and a .38 special revolver. It was not immediately known which weapon was used to kill the dog.

Much to the dismay of the dog’s owners and other area residents, the man – who has not been publicly named – was later released and allowed to return to his apartment.

Hemet Police Cpt. Glen Brock later discussed the incident with RCNS, saying, “Our officers did respond to a location on Latham Ave. to investigate the shooting of a dog. When they arrived they learned that a large, aggressive dog had been allowed to wander the complex without restraint.”

“The dog ultimately became aggressive with a man and his service dog in the stairwell leading up to his apartment,” Brock continued. “This man did fire a gun killing the aggressive dog.”

Although a man was detained and transported to Hemet PD for questioning, he was later released without charges. However, officers will be forwarding a report of their findings to the DA’s office for review and possible charges, according to Hemet Police Cpt. Glen Brock.

As word of the incident and man’s release spread on social media, many area residents angrily vented their frustration, with the vast majority decrying the man’s actions. Others pointed out that while the shooting may have been wrong or unjustified, it would not have happened had the dog been properly secured or restrained.

“Granted he should not have shot the dog,” area resident Christopher Dale Alger later commented, “but the (w)hole incident could have been avoided if the owner of the dog would have secured his animal.”

Residents Delilah R. LeBestia and Michael Valenzuela both agreed, with LeBestia commenting, “Not saying what this guy did was right but the owners have a responsibility to their pet to keep it safe and out of harms way,” and Valenzuela writing, “Not justifying the shooter but too many irresponsible dog owners let there dogs loose to roam around.”

Others, who claimed to have first-hand knowledge and information about the dog’s owners as well as the man who fatally shot the dog, later claimed the shooting stemmed from an ongoing dispute between the two parties.

Asked for further details about the allegations Brock explained, “The Hemet Police Department will be filing charges with the Riverside District Attorney’s Office.”

Brock also said that “because the investigation is still ongoing, no further information will be released at this time.”

Anyone with information about this investigation or who witnessed the shooting but has not yet provided a statement to officers is encouraged to contact Hemet PD at (951) 765-2400. Callers can remain anonymous.

Click any image to open full-size gallery.
Warning: Some images could contain graphic content.

Above photos: Gary Rainwater/RCNS

Above photos: Miguel Shannon/OC Hawk News


Contact the writer: trevor.rcns@gmail.com

Trevor Montgomery, 47, moved last year to the Intermountain area of Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he writes for several other news organizations; including Riverside County based newspapers, Valley News, The Valley Chronicle, and Anza Valley Outlook; as well as Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County and Mountain Echo in Shasta County.

Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back, and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)

During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations; including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center, and Lake Elsinore Station; along with other locations.

Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team, and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.

Trevor has been married for more than 28 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and his “fluid family” includes 13 children and 15 – but soon to be 16 – grandchildren.

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