BY SARAH STEPHENS, OWNER/EDITOR
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Once again, an Elmore County Grand Jury will have to answer the question, “When is deadly force allowed?”
Most recently last week, Elmore County Sheriff Bill Franklin said a man was shot three times in Eclectic near Lake Martin with an AR-15 in the legs, after his dogs reportedly attacked a neighbor’s dog on the neighbor’s property, forcing the landowner to run to safety inside his home.
After the attack, the older landowner called his son about the incident, Tony Mask, 41, who arrived on the property and went to confront one of the dog’s owners. What exactly transpired is still being sorted out, Sheriff Bill Franklin said. But the end result is two dogs were killed, two others injured, and the dogs’ owner was shot. That man is still recovering from those wounds, and could face multiple surgeries,” Franklin said.
As for Tony Mask who reportedly fired the shots, he was arrested and charged with 1st degree Assault, as well as animal cruelty charges. Later additional charges came from a couple that witnessed the incident for Reckless Endangerment.
“These people know each other, and there is an ongoing dispute over the dogs leaving their property and entering other nearby residents’ property,” Sheriff Franklin said.
In fact, multiple area residents have complained about the dogs allowed to run at large, claiming they are used for fighting and are vicious. Neighbors claimed that despite several requests, nothing has been done to the animals, or the owners by county or law enforcement officials.
In this particular case, an older gentleman, the landowner where the dogs allegedly cornered him and attacked his dog, had come home Oct. 27 just prior to the incident.
“The dogs actually chased the older man up onto his porch. He used a 2X4 to try and fight the dogs off and ended up running into the house to get away,” Franklin said. “He called his son, Tony Mask, who came over. Tony shot two of the dogs with a pistol killing them, and two others required veterinary care. He then confronted the dogs’ owner. We were told that Tony Mask was struck by the dog’s owner and Tony fired (a second weapon) an AR-15 multiple times at the ground. But the victim was hit several times in the legs.”
The following day, a couple came forward to file charges against Mask as well. They were visiting the dog’s owner to purchase a puppy. Franklin said that the couple claimed reckless endangerment, as the shots were fired close to them, which brought about the charges.
“We were told that dirt splashed up on their feet from the shots fired, and it created a serious physical threat, as they could have been injured as well,” Sheriff Franklin said.
A family member to Tony Mask has taken to social media. We reached out to Stacy Cannon, who is the daughter of the older man initially attacked in the incident. She has given us permission to use information from her social media post.
“From Stacy Cannon – How about the whole story…here ya go. Neighbors who were allowed to live on said older man’s sister’s land for free for years, who are related, have been repeatedly asked to get rid of dogs that chased people walking down the roads and running them. (These are the) same dogs chasing said older man’s grandchildren onto his own adjacent property.
When asked to get rid of dogs they got more…bred more…allowed dogs to fight and ruin the inside of the house on the property that was supposed to be her and her victim boyfriend’s mom’s place. Asked many more times to get rid of dogs. (The) 68-year-old older man…MY FATHER was repeatedly cussed when he requested something (be) done with dogs. Landowner serves eviction due to the continuous problems with these vicious dogs and reports of people complaining of suspicious drug related activity on the property.
Once served dogs are let out to roam more.
MY FATHER on his own adjacent property is out at his shop with his dog and here come a pack of the vicious dogs and attack his dog. So he picks up a 2×4 and starts beating them off of his dog and they start turning on him. While screaming for help and fighting these vicious dogs with a freaking 2×4 on his knees…with a heart condition…the owner walks up and witnesses my dad and his dog’s attack. She cusses him and turns and walks off and leaves the attack!!! My brother calls my dad who is waiting in the field for his grandsons to come shoot birds and is told to get the boys away and what has just happened. Then brother goes to ask what is going to be done with the dogs and is cussed so he shoots the dogs with a handgun. He goes to check on my dad and is summoned back into the pasture, on our land, being cussed and is attacked by “victim” through the window of his truck. When my brother exits truck (he) is still being struck by victim so brother fires shots towards the ground with the AR and the poor victim is hit and still cussing and coming at him.”
So, judge if you want…
Let it be your dad … let it be your child or your grandchild being constantly chased on your own property.”
“The fact of the matter is, we have had multiple incidents in the last couple of months. I want to remind everyone that you cannot take a life (or use deadly force) unless you perceive your life, or another’s life, is in danger. When you pull out a handgun or rifle, it needs to be a thought-out process about whether or not utilizing a firearm is proper,” Franklin said.
In another recent case in Holtville, a man was jailed after he fired several shots at a man on Ceasarville Road he had an ongoing dispute with, who reportedly came to the shooter’s home breaking out multiple vehicle windows. In that case, the man exited his home with an AR-15 and fired several shots, striking the alleged criminal mischief perpetrator in the legs. The injuries were serious, the sheriff said. The question remains whether the man shot was fleeing at the time, and all of that information will be presented to a future grand jury. He fell in the roadway, off of the shooter’s property, the sheriff said.
“It has been a little crazy around here lately, no doubt,” Sheriff Franklin.
He also gave an update on another, unrelated matter, concerning Dawson Baker, 18, who remains hospitalized after being punched after the Holtville Homecoming Game last month. Arrested in that matter was Wyatt George, 18, who was charged with second-degree assault.
“We spoke to the victim’s mother this week and understand Dawson Baker is now responding on some level. My investigator went to the Rehabilitation Center where Baker is recovering. We are hoping that Baker will continue to recover and be able to offer more information for the Grand Jury, perhaps in January.”
Baker was 17 years old at the time of the incident, but turned 18 in the hospital.