CRIME REPORT: with Matt Burks

Dog shot in Bauxite by police; neighbors, police chief said it was warranted

A call of a vicious dog in Bauxite ended with the animal being shot, but a neighbor and the police chief say the death was warranted.

"It's very peaceful now," Melissa Parker said. "It's finally peaceful enough for my son to ride his bicycle outside without the fear of being bit. It's good for all of us."

It was Dec. 31 when Police Chief Ron Parsons said officers were called to the 5400 block of Spring Street. Parker said that her 7-year-old son had nearly been attacked by a vicious dog owned by next-door neighbors Gary and Peggy Hula. The report also noted that Mayor Johnny McMahan had previously received numerous calls regarding a vicious dog in the area, but each time the officers responded, they were unable to locate the dog.

Parker also said the Hula family has refused to acknowledge that their dog has caused problems.

"I have spoken to them several times and they don't see anything wrong with what their dog has been doing," she said. "The dog even came over and snapped at me once when I was coming off my own porch and I was holding my infant baby. I ran back up the porch into the house and called the police. But they couldn't do anything, or find the dog then."

Parker added that on Dec. 31, her son had been outside riding his bicycle when he suddenly "came running inside the house with his heart pounding. He was scared to death."

"That dog chases my son on the street, sometimes corners him up, and she scares him to death," Parker said in the police report. "(The dog) came up to him while he was riding his bicycle, showing her teeth and growling, and attempting to bite him."

When Parsons and the city's animal control officer, William Bayless, responded to the area on Dec. 31 they found the "large 40-45 pound brown and black female mixed-breed dog sitting in the grass near the street." Parsons said that the dog "was loose and not restrained or fenced in."

The chief said he knocked on the front door of the Hula home and "I could hear Peggy Hula inside the house yelling 'who is it?' ... and I advised her through the door that her dog was being aggressive and vicious towards people in the neighborhood. Mrs. Hula refused to open the door or come out of her home."

Bayless reportedly attempted to usng a catchpole to get control of the dog, but "the dog immediately began to growl and show its teeth in an aggressive manner. The dog would flee from Bayless each time he attempted to loop the rope around the dog's neck."

Parsons said the dog also "came very close to biting me" as he was assisting Bayless, but he was able to move out of the way. Then the dog reportedly charged towards Bayless with teeth showing and attempted to bite him, but he was also able to move out of the way. During this time, Hula reportedly walked toward Parsons, held up a cell phone to take a picture and said, "I'm taking a picture of you harassing me." The report said Hula then turned and walked back into her home. Parsons said he then had Bayless stand by while he "retrieved my citation book and duty weapon to write a citation to Hula. He said when he went to attempt to give Hula the citation, he stepped through the Hula's front gate, closed it and started to walk to the front door when the dog "ran around a trailer where it was apparently hiding and immediately attempted to bite me. I was unable to back away from the dog as I had closed the gate behind me.

"Because I felt I was in danger of being bitten, I fired one shot in a downward direction, which struck the dog in the head," Parsons noted in the report. "The dog immediately fell to the ground ... the background for the shot was clear and directly into the ground."

The chief said he then tried to get Hula to answer the door to no avail. Bayless removed the dog from the yard and Parsons then left, but noted that "I will return to the Hula residence and issue Peggy Hula a citation for allowing a vicious animal to run at large."

"It should be noted that I have personally warned the Hula family several times in the past about letting their dog run loose due to its aggressive nature," Parsons reported.

Parsons told The Saline Courier today that since that Dec. 31 incident, Peggy Hula was cited for allowing a vicious animal run at large. He also said that the dog "did not have its (rabies and other) shots."

"We are lucky the child was not bit or mauled by the dog," Parsons said. "The Hula family had been warned before on several occasions."

Mary Byrd, the grandmother of the 7-year-old boy, said she has also witnessed the Hulas' dog try to attack her grandson on several occasions.

"She has gone after him several times and several times it's almost bit him," she said. "(Grandson) is scared to death. The dog has also been turning over trash cans in the neighborhood a lot. I mean it is almost every week there is an issue with this dog."

Byrd added, "I told the mayor that someone will get hurt because of this dog. But now that the dog is gone, we all feel much safer. My grandson told me that now he can ride his bicycle in his own front yard and street without being afraid."

Parsons said that all of Bauxite "has a serious problem with animals running loose. He said it is only a matter of time before a person is "seriously bit or injured and has to undergo rabies shots."

"I personally have three dogs that I have rescued from abuse cases," the chief said. "My dogs all have their shots, have been neutered and are not allowed to run at large. The city of Bauxite is asking that dog owners please fence or restrain your animals from running at large."

Parker, who said she also would have "shot the dog" if she was in the same position as the chief on Dec. 31, noted that there is now a new problem.

"I think the dog may have had puppies," she said. "(Gary and Peggy Hula) didn't take care of their dog. Now there will be a lot of puppies running around with their mother's life tragically ended. It is a shame it came to this, but now my son can finally play outside without fear."

The Courier was unable to reach Peggy or Gary Hula. Their listed telephone number is not in service.

Man tries to hide crack rock in police car

Jessie Lee Knight Jr., 29, of Benton faces charges after admitting to hiding a crack cocaine rock inside a police cruiser, according to a Benton police report. Officer Michael McClain said three people were observed inside a parked vehicle at Oak and Brown streets around 4:40 a.m., including one man not wearing pants. Knight, who was sitting in the driver's seat, was found to have an active warrant with the Benton Police Department and was taken into custody. McClain said while en route to the Saline County jail, he noticed Knight "moving around" in the back seat of the police cruiser. McClain later raised the back seat and noticed a cut straw and a baggie containing a substance believed to be crack cocaine rock. Knight reportedly admitted that the crack cocaine rock and straw belonged to him. Knight was charged with felony possession of cocaine less than 2 grams and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Suspicious person call leads to arrest

Bryant police responded to the parking lot of Shoe Carnival for a report of a man who appeared to be breaking into a vehicle. Officer David Miller said the vehicle was stopped and that Julian M. Shoptaw claimed it was his wife's vehicle and the keys had been locked inside. Shoptaw, 26, of Benton also said he had no driver's license and warrants, the report said. Officers confirmed that Shoptaw had warrants with Malvern Police Department and sheriff's offices in Grant and Saline counties. The report said three needles, a spoon and baggies were found in the vehicle, and Shoptaw admitted that he uses needles to inject methamphetamine. Shoptaw was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia, driving on a suspended driver's license and no proof of insurance.

Man grabs employee's throat

Arthur F. Green Jr., 44, of Alexander was arrested after allegedly grabbing the throat of an employee at O'Reilly's Auto Parts store, according to a Bryant police report. The employee said Green was upset because the store would not exchange a paint gun "due to (Green) owing the store money." The employee said Green then grabbed his throat and refused to leave the store. Green reportedly admitted to grabbing the employee by the throat. Green was charged with third-degree battery.