Charges: Man shoots dogs that killed his cat

Virginia man pulled gun on Labs' owner, police say

By Kaitlyn Walsh

A Virginia man is facing charges in the death of the two dogs that killed his cat, The Roanoke Times reported.

Stephen Nichols Cook, 68, appeared in court Tuesday after he allegedly shot the two Labrador retrievers and pulled his gun on the dogs' owner, Arthur Hamrick, the newspaper reported. 

Several witnesses said in court that Cook and Hamrick have a longstanding feud, the Times reported. In 2012, one of the dogs caught and injured another of Cook's cats. Hamrick paid the resulting vet bills.

Jeffrey the cat was caught and killed Nov. 6, 2017, the newspaper reported.

Hamrick was driving with the dogs in the back of his pickup truck when Cook allegedly drove up behind him. Hamrick pulled over, thinking the driver wanted to pass, the newspaper reported.

Cook pulled over and got out of his car, allegedly with the dead cat in one hand and a pistol in the other, Hamrick said. The Times reported that Cook allegedly shot the two dogs while they were in the truck bed. Hamrick said he pulled out his own pistol and Cook drove away.

In the preliminary hearing, attorney Dean Manor said Cook chose "vigilante justice" over turning to police, the courts or other nonviolent avenues, the Times reported. 

Cook's attorney, Richard Davis, said Cook was sorry the dogs had been killed, the Times reported. Cook's wife said in court that when Cook got home after the altercation, he said he shot the dogs and, "He wished he'd never done this," she said.

Judge Randal Duncan found Cook guilty of two misdemeanor charges, brandishing a firearm and reckless handling of a firearm, fining him $2,500 for each, the Times reported. Duncan sentenced him to a 12-month jail sentence for each charge and suspended nine months of each, leaving six months for Cook to serve. 

The judge sent felony charges on to a grand jury, which will determine if the charges will be tried in circuit court, the Times reported. 

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