LAPORTE | Police are reviewing the fatal shooting of a dog that occurred in front of four people Sunday, almost in the line of the officer's fire, according to witnesses.
"If he would have missed, one of us could have been shot," said Anthony Aldana, 20, of the 300 block of G Street. where Nero, an 8-month-old Labrador mix, was shot.
Aldana lives with the owner of the dog, Daniel Shoaf, 28, who said he went to church Sunday morning and later dinner when the shooting happened.
"When I came home, everyone was like freaking out," Shoaf said.
According to police, Officer Christopher Schoof pulled up to the home about 5:30 p.m. Sunday to serve an arrest warrant on a man, who based on information, might be at what the dispatcher called a "party house."
Police said Nero was tied to a cable in front of the home, but the dog's collar broke as it acted aggressively toward the officer.
In his report, Schoof said the dog was growling and showing its teeth while charging at him.
Schoof said he tried to retreat from the dog, but with, Nero continuing to come at him, he fired two shots.
Aldana, who was sitting on the front porch beside Juanira Puentes, 22, said the first shot fired roughly 15 feet in front of them hit the dirt, but the second bullet struck Nero in the chest.
"It was crazy. I had never seen anything or anyone get shot. It was like in front of my face," Puentes said.
Because Shoaf was not home, a neighbor drove Nero to the animal clinic at Purdue North Central near Westville where the dog died.
Shoaf said an online petition asking for the officer to be terminated or resign has been signed by more than 500 people.
Aldana wonders why the officer didn't use his Taser if he felt he was in danger and there were many people, including children, playing close to where the dog was shot.
The officer had his gun pointed more toward the ground, but had any of the shots flown above of the dog someone on the porch could have been hit, Aldana said.
"He just didn't even think. Just boom, boom," Aldana said.
LaPorte police Capt. Tom Heath said Tuesday no disciplinary action has been taken against the officer, but the matter is under review.
Heath declined to make any preliminary judgements of the officer's actions, but said, "contrary to how it's been represented in social media, most of us down here do have pets just like everyone else."
"It's unfortunate you have to do things you really don't want to do. At some point you do have to defend yourself," Heath said.