By SVERRE BAKKE
A 33-year-old Glenwood man is being held in the Klickitat County Jail in connection with the killing of a dog in Glenwood on the night of Saturday, March 19.
Gustavo Zaragoza-Martinez has been charged by the Klickitat County Prosecuting Attorney's Office with three Class C felonies: second-degree malicious mischief in the dog's death and two counts of illegal possession of a firearm.
Conviction of each felony is punishable by five years in prison and a $10,000 fine, County Prosecutor Tim O'Neill said.
Zaragoza-Martinez is scheduled to be arraigned on the charges in Klickitat County Superior Court on Monday, April 4. He is being defended by attorney Gerald Matosich of Lyle.
During a preliminary hearing on March 21, bail for Zaragoza-Martinez was set at $10,000.
According to Sheriff Chris Mace, once the county has completed its prosecution of him, Zaragoza-Martinez will be turned over to the U.S. Bureau of Customs and Border Protection, which had an outstanding warrant out for Zaragoza-Martinez's arrest on immigration related violations.
An eyewitness report provided by Nancy Lewis, an owner of the dog -- an 18-month-old registered black Labrador named Rocko -- to sheriff's deputies led to Zaragoza-Martinez's "probable cause" arrest at a Glenwood residence.
During a subsequent background check on the suspect, the Sheriff's Office discovered Zaragoza-Martinez was an illegal alien wanted by federal law enforcement authorities. O'Neill said the suspect previously had been deported to Mexico following a felony conviction but had since re-entered the U.S.
Zaragoza-Martinez has lived in Glenwood for about a year and, in the last five months, allegedly has had a number of dog-related "run-ins" with Rocko's owner, Dan Lewis, who, with his wife, Nancy, bought and reopened Glenwood's Bird Creek Inn last October.
The Lewises live behind the inn in a camp trailer, next to which they set up a kennel for Rocko to run free in.
"The dog was like my child. He went everywhere with me," Lewis told The Enterprise.
Though they had had "words on more than one occasion," Lewis said he and Zaragoza-Martinez had talked and resolved their differences. Now, he believes Zaragoza-Martinez killed Rocko as an act of revenge.
"The reason I think he did this was his dog was in heat and turned up missing, and he thought I had something to do with it," Lewis said, and added, "His dog showed up about two hours after all this happened."
Mace said Nancy Lewis was alerted by Rocko's barking and "happened to be looking out her trailer window" at the time of the shooting, which occurred at about 11 p.m.
According to Lewis' account, "The dog ran up to the fence the way dogs will when they see somebody approaching, and the guy reached over with the firearm and shot the dog right there, and then took off," the sheriff said.
Nancy Lewis told police she recognized the alleged shooter as a man known around the community as "Gus."
Lewis told her husband she "heard a pop and opened up the door to see what was going on and the guy ran off," Dan Lewis said.
Lewis said he got a flashlight to check on Rocko and have a look around his property, then called the Sheriff's Office.
Mace said Zaragoza-Martinez told deputies he didn't shoot the Lewises' dog. The interview of the suspect ended after deputies alleged he had been seen by an eyewitness and Zaragoza-Martinez asked for a lawyer, the sheriff added.
Zaragoza-Martinez was subsequently arrested "for probable cause" in connection with the shooting and booked into the county jail on March 19.
Police confirmed the Lewises' dog had been killed with a small-caliber weapon after White Salmon veterinarian Craig Vance recovered a .22-caliber slug during an autopsy. They believe the weapon used in the shooting is a .22 rifle given them willingly by a resident the suspect's home.
"It was just devastating," Lewis said of his dog's apparently unprovoked killing. "You don't expect something like this to happen in a small community."