Victim number 5, found on Keats Street on March 2
Five wild parrots (one endangered lilac-crowned Amazon and four near-threatened red-masked conures) have been confirmed shot and killed in Ocean Beach/Point Loma within the past two months (February 19 to March 3). Two more deaths have undetermined causes.
Victim number 5 was found in these bushes on Keats Street
After the third confirmed shooting on February 22, SoCal Parrot's Brooke Durham tried to report it to the San Diego County Department of Animal Services. After several tries, she says she was only able to leave a message.
February 25 brought a promising lead for the first parrot shooting, a lilac-crowned Amazon found near Mariners Cove. Durham attempted to report the tip to animal services. Instead of taking a report, she says the agency instructed her to direct the public to their non-emergency line.
Another red-masked conure was found dead in Point Loma (at Gage Drive and Talbot Street) on February 26. This fourth victim's x-rays showed a metallic pellet in the heart.
"I called [animal services] for guidance and was informed that someone would call me right back," said Durham. "They didn't get back to me until the next day and that was only to say that the officer that was supposed to call me had called in sick."
The San Diego Police Department declined to open up a case and told Durham to direct the public to their non-emergency line. Durham did just that. After interviewing a witness, the police department opened a case.
On February 27, Durham received a solid lead via voicemail. "I received a description of a suspect including their address, age, and name. The juvenile had been known to speak of asking for or receiving a pellet gun for the purpose of shooting parrots," said Durham. "The name on the message was hard to understand. My husband found it in public property tax records online."
Durham did a search on social media and found one adult with the unique last name in Point Loma.
Durham called the police to report the lead but after an hour on hold, she made her report online. This same day, another dead parrot was found in Ocean Beach (cause of death undetermined).
Durham was at her wits’ end when she got in contact with the Animal Protection and Rescue League on February 28 for some advice on how to get some action from law enforcement. Within an hour, a Department of Animal Services case number was issued.
"DAS lead investigator Prettyman came to our headquarters to pick up the bodies and other evidence that same afternoon," said Durham. "As she left, she said she was off for the next two days and that nothing would happen on the case until her return."
At this point, $8100 in reward money started pouring in from the community, the Animal Legal Defense Fund, and others.
On March 1, Jane Cartmill of San Diego Animal Advocates contacted Department of Animal Services director Dawn Danielson to coordinate a press release. Danielson replied, "We have a suspect so we don’t need any reward money now. If this suspect doesn’t pan out then we can go that route. Unfortunately, our suspect is a juvie so that makes it very tough to prosecute.”
Necropsy on victim number 5 confirmed a projectile had entered its chest
On March 2, the fifth shooting victim was found in Point Loma on Keats Street. "The red-masked conure expired that same day from injuries consistent with a projectile," said Durham.
By the end of the day, PETA announced a $5000 reward.
On March 11, Durham said, "The [Department of Animal Services] only started taking this seriously after the PETA intervention and the fifth death. Both the [Department of Animal Services] and [police] blew me off multiple times. They waited at least six days to follow up on the good February 27 lead. And then another bird was shot the day before they decided to start following up….
"Whatever case they have, we built it for them. I gave them x-rays and photos that prove causes of death. They don’t seem to be doing anything except protecting a potential suspect from prosecution."
The police department declined to comment.
Danielson indicated an announcement was forthcoming on March 14. She said, "Whether the case can be prosecuted will depend if we can tie the evidence to the person(s) responsible for maliciously and intentionally wounding or killing these parrots. We work closely with the DA’s office and if we present a good case to the prosecutor I see no reason why criminal charges would not be filed."
Durham pointed out that there is another possible suspect responsible for the first parrot shooting that also needs to be investigated.
A volunteer group orientation is scheduled for March 19. Durham said, "We’re trying to build a street team in Ocean Beach and Point Loma to educate the public about how to help the parrots."