An Escambia County deputy shot two pit bulls during an aggravated assault with a firearm investigation on Saturday. The shootings took place at a West Pensacola, Fla., home, which was entered without a warrant in a search of a suspect.
Pensacola News Journal reports that deputies believed that a suspect in an armed disturbance from earlier in the evening often visited the home where Cristina Moses and her fiancé Travis Nicholas lived.
Several witnesses reported a man toting a gun and threatening people during the evening, according to an incident report. One witness reported the man’s name as Travis.
“Repeated attempts were made to get someone to open the door, with no success," according to the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office statement, reported NorthEscambia.com. "Deputies entered the house through the open window in effort to locate the suspect and to assure the safety of the occupants.”
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Moses and Nicholas said they were sleeping when deputies entered the window and told them to come out with their hands up and get on the ground. Moses said deputies fired at least three times at the dogs, prompting her to jump up and try to stop them. She said she was thrown to the ground as a deputy continued to fire his weapon inside her home.
No one in the home was arrested.
The dogs were transported to a local veterinary hospital by the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office. One of the pit bulls was euthanized. The second dog was treated and returned to its owner.
Moses and Nicholas both have criminal records, mostly on misdemeanor drug charges, but they said they did nothing to provoke the deputies coming into their home and shooting the dogs.
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“I’m frustrated because this could have been prevented,” Moses said. “I don’t know why it happened … I feel like my child has died.”
The deputies were placed on administrative leave pending a thorough review of the incident, according to the sheriff’s office. The investigation into the aggravated assault with a firearm is ongoing and victims and witnesses were still being interviewed.