No Suspect Found – Police Shoot Dog Instead
Mendocino Major Crimes Task Force agents, aided by a uniformed Willits police officer, serving a search warrant at 64 Franklin Avenue on July 27, shot and killed a family pet, an 8-year-old half-pit bull mix named Tonka.
When agents searched the home, they found nothing directly linking the residents to the arrest of Craig Anthony Gelber, the target of the search, according to MMCTF Commander Bob Nishiyama.
“I know the officer felt terrible,” says [police chief] Nishiyama about the shooting. “You may have the nicest dog in the world, but we don’t know it. Officers are authorized to defend themselves. We offered to take the dog and take care of it, but the family preferred to handle the arrangements themselves.”
According to resident Anna White, Tonka’s owner, the police shot her pet while it was in a fenced area on her front porch. “We found the shell casing outside by the fence area. Tonka then ran into our house, got onto my bed and died.”
White described her bedroom following the search, claiming Tonka’s body had been dumped from the bed onto the floor and items from her room dropped onto the body and into the dog’s blood. “They destroyed our house and found nothing,” says White. “Tonka lived long enough to die on my bed, which we shared each night.”
Tonka was one of three dogs at the home. White’s father was the only family member at home during the first part of the search. Her father got to the door after the shot had been fired, says White. The three dogs then ran into the home. Her father did not know at first Tonka had been shot since he was handcuffed and lying on the floor during the search.