The Killings of Samson and Epic
September 5, 2010
As with every story, there are two sides. We’ll look at both after starting with a summary from the local paper on Ocala, Florida on the facts that appear to be undisputed:
What most people agree on is that at about 3 p.m. on Aug. 12, Samson, a male Great Dane, and Epic, a female, slipped through their owner’s yard when one of the family members accidentally left open a gate at their Pecan Drive Court home in Silver Springs Shores.
Between 5 and 5:30 p.m., Chris Monteiro fired two rounds from his Glock 9 mm pistol into Epic, striking the animal once in the back and once in the left side of the neck.
Epic died shortly thereafter.
What’s also known from veterinary and Marion County Sheriff’s reports is that Samson, the larger of the two dogs, was shot once in the nasal passage, after which the bullet lodged into the back of his neck.
Samson died at an emergency clinic later that night.
Monteiro first dialed 911 after he said the two dogs tried to attack him while he was working on his car in his garage.
He told the 911 operator that there were children outside in his neighborhood and he was afraid for his safety and theirs.
“And if I can’t get ‘em out of here I’m gonna shoot one of them,” he told the operator, according to 911 transcripts.
The operator told him to stay inside his home and that someone would arrive to help.
But he didn’t stay inside. According to a statement he gave sheriff’s deputies and the Star-Banner, he went inside and came out again, but this time armed with the pistol. He continued to work on his car.
From there, we get divergent accounts. Mr. Monteiro says the dogs began heading for the children who were playing outside. He yelled for the mother to get the kids indoors and then the dogs turned and charged toward him. He stayed in his yard and when they reached the edge of his property, he shot them both at a distance of about 10 feet.
“The dogs were full-on attacking me,” said the 32-year-old Monteiro.
Law enforcement investigators found that Mr. Monteiro acted appropriately.
An eyewitness to the killings, Kim Dethloff, has a different version of events. She says there were no children playing outside (they were inside a screened-in porch where Ms. Dethloff was visiting).
Monteiro told the 911 operator during a second 911 call after shooting the dogs that “[the dogs] were chasing the kids down the street.”
According to Ms. Dethloff, the dogs left the neighbor’s yard and headed in Mr. Monteiro’s direction but toward a field, not directly at him. Samson and Epic were not behaving in an aggressive manner nor were they bothering anyone. Mr. Monteiro went out into the street and shot the dogs.
The dogs’ owner hired an attorney who claims there are other eyewitnesses who corroborate Ms. Dethloff’s story. The lawyer is attempting to persuade the State Attorney’s Office to charge Mr. Monteiro. As of September 3, there has been no response to the request.
From the information contained in the article, it seems to me that the entire situation would have been avoided if Mr. Monteiro had simply followed the instructions given him by the 911 dispatcher. He could have remained safely in his home until authorities arrived and picked up the dogs. If the dogs truly were menacing neighborhood children and chasing them down the street, we need to hear someone besides Mr. Monteiro say so.
To my mind, the fact that Mr. Monteiro ignored the simple directive to stay inside but chose instead to go back outside with a Glock, indicates there is reason to investigate the details of the case further. In addition:
Necropsy photos and reports obtained by the Star-Banner showed one shot entered Epic’s back and exited the dog’s stomach area. The photos also show where the dog was shot on the side of the neck.
If Epic was 10 feet from Mr. Monteiro and charging toward him, how could she have been shot in the back and in the side of the neck? That sounds like a dog running away, not charging straight at the shooter from a distance of 10 feet.
It’s unclear to me how law enforcement could have determined Mr. Monteiro’s actions were appropriate given that his version of events is contradicted by at least one eyewitness. I hope authorities will at least conduct a more thorough investigation and share their findings with the public.