Shooting ruffles neighbor’s feathers
A neighborhood feud turned fowl Tuesday when a Bay County man shot and killed three chickens and a turkey with a .357-caliber Magnum during an argument in his neighbor’s front yard.
Ron Daniel, 54, said he got into an argument with Sandra Lawrence when his birds wandered onto her property near State 22 in eastern Bay County. Daniel said he couldn’t catch the birds, so he got angry and shot them.
Daniel, who was raising the birds for food, said he had every intention of eating what he had killed, but he was arrested and charged with one count of misdemeanor animal cruelty before he could put the birds in a pot.
“I intended to take them to the house and make chicken and dumplings out of them,” Daniel said. “They never knew what hit them. I’m one hell of a shot.”
Lawrence said she demanded that Daniel remove the birds from her yard, but was appalled and disgusted at his methods.
“It’s not hunting season,” she said. “I didn’t even comprehend what he was doing until I heard the bang. My mouth fell open. You don’t expect somebody to do something like that. It was just uncalled for.”
The neighbors both admit having a problem keeping their animals on their respective properties. Daniel said Lawrence’s dog has come onto his property several times and killed his chickens.
“I’d go out in my yard and find a dead chicken here and a dead chicken there,” Daniel said. “I told them I’ve got a problem with your dog killing my fowl. I talked to them three times, and got a good cussing out.”
Daniel said he has called Bay County deputies and animal control out to his house on several occasions to report problems with Lawrence’s dog. Needless to say, when Daniel’s chickens wandered onto Lawrence’s property Tuesday, they were not well-received.
“I was going to get those chickens,” Daniel said. “I took my cane and started over there to catch them, but they ran from me, which is natural.”
Unable to catch the chickens, Daniel, a disabled veteran, admits that he lost his temper and told his son to bring him his gun.
“We used to call it ‘going south’ in ‘Nam,” Daniel said. “She (Lawrence) said, ‘Get your chickens off of my property or kill them.’ These people have aggravated me and aggravated me. I had to put a stop to it.
“I thought well I can shoot my neighbors or I can shoot my chickens, but if I shoot my neighbors, I won’t have any dinner,” he added.
Lawrence said her 19-year-old daughter, an animal lover who was horrified by the shooting, called the Humane Society.
Animal control officials responded to the scene with Bay County deputies, who took Daniel into custody. Two chickens and a turkey were found dead at the scene. One chicken was rushed to Parkway Animal Hospital where it died in surgery.
The shooting, Daniel said, was more humane than euthanasia practiced in animal shelters, and it had a purpose – food.
“Some people may think it’s cold-blooded, but those same people will go to the grocery store and buy chicken wrapped in plastic,” Daniel said. “I’m a country boy. I was raised on a farm. If you didn’t raise something to eat, you didn’t eat.”
According to Florida Statute 828.12, misdemeanor animal cruelty is defined as unnecessarily mutilating or killing an animal. The offense is punishable by up to a year in jail or a fine of not more than $5,000.
Setting It Straight
A News Herald story Wednesday on the shooting of three chickens and a turkey should have said one of the chickens was euthanized at Parkway Animal Hospital because it could not survive its injuries.
Follow up story:
Local News: Chicken killer flies coop after state drops charges
Saturday, July 13, 2002
The News Herald
The State Attorney’s Office cleared Ron Daniel of animal cruelty charges Friday, three days after he was arrested for shooting three chickens and a turkey with a .357-caliber Magnum in his neighbor’s yard.
Assistant State Attorney Zachary Taylor filed a “no information” in the case, saying the state could not prove the incident was malicious. “It is not a crime for the owner of chickens to kill them when attempting to do so in a humane manner,” he explained.
Daniel said he plans to get his gun back from the Bay County Sheriff’s Office on Monday.
After The News Herald reported his arrest on Wednesday, Daniel said the state attorney’s office called him for an interview, and people all over Bay County started calling him the Chicken Man.
“I’m not guilty of animal cruelty,” said Daniel who raises the birds for food. “Now, everywhere I go people are asking me for fried chicken. They want me to open a chicken franchise.”
Daniel shot the birds after they wandered onto the property of his neighbors, Sandra and Richard Lawrence. He said he’d been feuding with the Lawrence family because their daughter’s dog had killed some of his chickens.
Sandra Lawrence, who witnessed the shooting, said she feels she is now the laughingstock of Bay County, but she can’t find the humor in a man firing a gun in her front yard. She said Daniel shot the birds in an effort to intimidate her, after she asked him to get them out of her yard.
“I feel like our judicial system has failed us,” she said. “I don’t even feel safe in my own yard anymore. People aren’t taking this seriously. We’re scared that it’s open season on us.”
Daniel, a disabled veteran who raises chickens, ducks, quail and turkeys, said he got mad trying to catch the birds, and decided to have them for dinner instead. He got his gun and shot them in front of his neighbors.
The Lawrences’ 19-year-old daughter, Shonda, made an emergency call to the Humane Society that was answered by Bay County Animal Control and deputies, who took Daniel into custody. Two chickens and the turkey died immediately. One chicken was taken to Parkway Animal Hospital, where it was euthanized.
After he was released from jail Wednesday, Daniel told The News Herald he’d planned to make chicken and dumplings, but animal control took the chickens before he could get them back to the house. “They never knew what hit them,” he said. “I’m one hell of a shot.”
Richard Lawrence said he doesn’t care if Daniel kills his chickens, but he should do it on his own property. He said if he’d been home at the time of the incident, he’d have probably gone to jail too – for fighting.
“He never should have brought that gun down here,” he said.