Hillsborough County detectives shoot two pit bulls, owner facing charges of animal cruelty
Valrico, Florida – A Hillsborough County man is facing two counts of animal cruelty after his two pitbulls were shot and killed by detectives.
Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Captain Steve Launkikitis says his detectives had no choice but to fire on the animals after 23-year-old Garrett McGall sicced his dogs on them as they tried to take him into custody.
McGall had several outstanding felony warrants for his arrest and is now in addition, being blamed for the death of his animals.
“They knocked, they announced, they knew he was inside,” explained Captain Launkiktis.
He says McGall was given plenty of time to put his dogs away and give himself up, but after 20 minutes of trying to get him to come out, detectives went in.
This is when they came face to face with McGall’s five pit bulls, so they sprayed the dogs with pepper spray to keep them from attacking before slamming the door shut.
When detectives re-opened the door, this is when detectives say McGall sicced two of the dogs on them.
“A dog lunged at the detective, the detective utilized deadly force and shot the one dog and turned right back around and shot the other dog also as it lunged toward Detective Padron,” Capt. Launikitis said on scene of the home in the Town and Country mobile home park.
According to a preliminary investigation, Detective Albert Padron, a 25-year veteran, was attempting to take McGall into custody when one of the pitbulls lunged at him at which point another detective, John Masson fired on the dog, killing it. A second pit bull then jumped over the suspect and went after Detective Masson when it was shot and killed by Cpl. David Waytovich, a 20-year veteran.
Animal Services says it pulled three bullets from one of the dead dogs and two from the other.
“It was overkill,” David Hall told 10 Connects.
He says he was working on a nearby yard when he saw the detectives surround the house. His story matches up with that of the detectives until the point when the dogs exited the house.
“Once the dogs were pepper sprayed, they just wanted to get the pepper spray out of their eyes,” he said.
“The dogs weren’t being vicious and barking and growling at the cops, they just wanted to get what was in their face and their eyes out and the cops just shot him… boom, boom, boom,” Hall went on to say.
Detectives and witnesses on scene say one of the dogs bit Hall on the arm during the incident.
Hall thinks the dog was trying to get McGall away from what it thought was a threat to its owner.
“They’re all loveable dogs, they weren’t trained to attack and kill. They’re just good home, house watch dogs,” said Hall.
Of the three remaining dogs, one was returned to its owner who was not McGall and the other two were seized by Animal Services.
Detectives also arrested two other people on scene on charges of obstruction, a woman and a teenaged runaway.
McGall had felony warrants from the Department of Corrections for Violation of Probation on charges of Burglary of a Conveyance, Grand Theft and False Information on Pawn Form.
The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office is standing by their detectives decision to shoot the two dogs, saying the owner was given plenty of time to put the dogs away and surrender himself and maintain that McGall sicced the animals on detectives.