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December 9, 2023

Dead animals spark Gilroy neighbors’ concerns

Police: Unknown if person is responsible for all cases

A growing number of dead and mutilated animals reportedly found within a few blocks in central Gilroy over the past year have residents fearing there may be a serial abuser in the neighborhood.

Gilroy Police say that of the few incidents that have been reported to the department, no suspects have been identified while the cause of death of some cases have been undetermined.

A group of neighbors on Church Street, between First Street and Welburn Avenue, where the majority of dead animals, mostly cats, have allegedly been discovered, have banded together with other residents from throughout the city to investigate.

A gathering of concerned residents stationed themselves near the intersection of First and Monterey streets on Nov. 20, holding signs warning passersby that there may be a serial abuser in the neighborhood.

Some spoke during the Gilroy City Council meeting on Nov. 21, imploring police and city officials to use every available resource to catch whoever may be responsible, if there is someone involved.

Mariah Gomez, who lives in the Church Street neighborhood, said her 4-month-old kitten went missing on Nov. 14. When the kitten returned hours later, she appeared to have a broken jaw, according to Gomez.

The kitten was brought to a veterinarian, who discovered she had blunt force trauma to the head and chest, an amputated tongue and mouth burns, Gomez said. The kitten had to be euthanized due to the extent of its injuries.

“The vet informed me it was likely intentional and there was nothing she could think of or had ever seen that could cause these injuries,” Gomez said.

She added that she later learned of other similar incidents, at least 10, happening in the nearby neighborhoods over the past year.

“I hope now the community is aware of this, and that Gilroy PD and the city does something about what’s going on in this neighborhood,” Gomez said. “Because these heinous acts are only going to escalate to humans.”

Gilroy Police Sgt. John Ballard said there have been a few reported incidents of dead animals in the Church/Howson area over the past couple of months.

A cat was found shot and killed with a pellet gun in the neighborhood, and shortly after, a dead raccoon was spotted near the same area. Ballard noted it was undetermined whether the raccoon was struck by a car or died by other means.

Later, the charred remains of an unknown animal were found.

Regarding Gomez’s kitten, it remains unknown if the feline was attacked by a person, or if it chewed on a power cable, according to Ballard.

Ballard said the department’s animal control officer is tracking these incidents, but it is undetermined if it is all related.

“We don’t have any suspects we’re looking at,” he said.

According to Cheryl Parks of Gilroy, investigating residents believe that the suspect may be a person living in the nearby creek.

But Capt. Jason Smith said there is no evidence to suggest an unhoused person is responsible, nor have there been any suspects or arrests made.

Smith mentioned the earlier reported cases, and added that most of what he heard at the council meeting from residents “was new to me.”

“I can tell you the police department takes all calls of animal cruelty very seriously. It’s a felony,” he said. “I encourage anyone with information about these types of cases to contact the Gilroy Police Department.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact police at 408.846.0350.

Erik Chalhoub
Erik Chalhoub
Erik Chalhoub joined Weeklys as an editor in 2019. Prior to his current position, Chalhoub worked at The Pajaronian in Watsonville for seven years, serving as managing editor from 2014-2019.

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