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Palm Coast Thursday, Nov. 2, 2017 2 years ago

Man faces charges for animal cruelty and reckless discharge of a firearm after shooting and injuring neighbor's dog in the street

A second bullet passed through a nearby house while several people were inside.
by: Jonathan Simmons News Editor

A Flagler Beach man was inside his house on Audubon Lane the afternoon of Nov. 1 when he heard two gunshots and the sound of a dog — his dog — yelping. 

He ran outside, and construction workers were standing around his injured black-and-white Newfoundland dog, which had been shot in the leg. "He shot your dog! He was just standing there," the workers told the owner, 68-year-old Gary Coons, according to Coons' account to a Flagler County Sheriff's Office deputy.

Someone called the Sheriff’s Office, and Coons and another resident of the same home, 42-year-old Jennifer Shoup, flagged the deputy down as he entered the Sugarmill Plantation community.

Coons and Shoup were on their way to an emergency veterinarian, with Shoup riding with the dog in the back of their pickup truck, keeping it calm. 

The deputy continued to the scene of the shooting to interview witnesses and arranged to have a second deputy meet Coons and Shoup at the animal hospital.

Several witnesses on Audubon Lane told the deputy they’d seen another Audubon Lane resident, 21-year-old Stevano Mirko Stimac, shoot the dog. 

He’d also fired a second shot that passed through a window of a nearby home, clipped the edge of a dining room table and lodged in the wall. A 34-year-old woman, Jennifer Kelly, was in the house at the time with her 2-year-old daughter and another woman: None was hurt.

Kelly and the other woman, Joanne Priscandaro, heard the window shatter and walked outside, assuming it had been broken by construction workers throwing old shingles down from the roof. 

They “heard a dog crying loudly,” and a construction worker told them the dog had been shot, according to the deputy's case report. They realized that the broken window had been shot in. 

The construction workers told the deputy that the dog, named Truman, “was walking around the area, being friendly towards everyone and allowing them to pet him,” according to the deputy’s report.

The dog was near a stop sign at the end of a cul-de-sac when Stimac pulled out a gun and shot him. The workers heard two gunshots.

“All witnesses stated that Truman was not on Mr. Stimac’s property and he was not behaving aggressively towards Mr. Stimac,” the deputy wrote in the report.

One witness said he’d seen the dog walk toward the stop sign and had called out to get the dog’s attention so it wouldn’t walk into the roadway. 

The witness “stated that as he was calling the dog, he looked up and saw Mr. Stimac raise what he thought was a phone before realizing it was a firearm. … He advised that the dog was not approaching Mr. Stimac at the time, and was simply stopped in the area of the stop sign, sniffing the ground.” 

There were five or six construction workers in the area at the time who could have been shot, the witness added.

Another witness said Stimac had been walking Stimac’s own dog, a golden retriever. That witness “advised that Truman was nowhere near Mr. Stimac, and was not being aggressive.”

Witnesses said the dog fell to the ground, then got up and began limping back toward his own home. The construction workers grabbed the wounded dog and carried him over to the bed of his owners' truck.

Coons, speaking to another deputy at the animal hospital, said Truman had jumped on Stimac the previous week when Stimac’s dog was fighting with other neighborhood dogs.

Stimac was at his home when a deputy knocked on the door. 

Stimac said he’d had three prior incidents with Truman, and had been bitten by Truman twice, including once on the left hand two days ago and another time on the upper left arm six days ago.

He had “bruising on his upper arm and some red marks on his hand,” a deputy wrote in the report.

Stimac said he’d been in his own driveway, with his 2-year-old niece, walking his dog when Truman “began to charge aggressively at him and his dog. Mr. Stimac stated that he was in fear for the safety of his niece, his dog, and himself,” according to the report. 

Stimac said Truman was just 5 feet away from him. He “stated that he did what he felt was necessary to protect himself. … Mr. Stimac stated that Truman is an aggressive dog, and his owners have done nothing to contain him.”

A deputy found a pool of the dog’s blood at the end of the cul-de-sac — across the street from the long driveway to Stimac’s home.

Stimac told the deputy he’d been standing in his driveway about 70 feet from the roadway when Truman charged at him.

“It should be noted that the pool of blood was approximately 88 feet and 10 inches from where Mr. Stimac indicated he was standing,” the deputy wrote.

The deputy found a ricochet mark on the end of the driveway, pointing in the direction of the home the second bullet entered.

Truman was stabilized by a veterinarian. Shoup agreed to save the bullet or fragments once they’re removed and turn them over to there Sheriff’s Office as evidence.  

A deputy signed charges against Stimac for animal cruelty and reckless discharge of a firearm, and forwarded the charges to the State Attorney’s Office for review. 




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