Dogs accused in two attacks

Navajo Times

WINDOW ROCK, Dec. 16, 2010

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Dog attacks in the eastern and western portions of the Navajo Reservation got a lot of media attention in the past week.

Navajo police were called about 1:20 p.m. on Dec. 9 to assist McKinley County sheriff's deputies who were investigating a report of a man mauled by dogs.

According to Navajo police, the victim, identified as Larry Armstrong, 55, of Church Rock, N.M., was dead when police arrived at the scene. EMTs tried to revive him but were unsuccessful.

The deputies reported seeing a pack of dogs around Armstrong's body when they arrived. The dogs were mauling the body and deputies said they didn't know if he was alive or dead.

Deputies tried shouting at first to get the dogs away from the body and when that didn't work, they resorted to pepper spray. The dogs were reported to look very malnourished.

Local blood-and-guts coverage immediately assumed the dogs had attacked and killed the man, but the more authorities looked into it, the more questionable that assumption became.

Armstrong had a history of seizures, and police found tire tracks and vehicle debris at the scene that they said could indicate he was the victim of a hit-and-run driver.

Another theory is that he suffered a heart attack, died, and then was eaten by dogs. At press time Wednesday the state Office of the Medical Investigator had not issued an official cause of death.

Two days later, on Saturday, Navajo police reported that an officer in Tuba City was forced to shoot a dog at the low-rent housing complex there.

The officer was sent to the housing complex about 4 p.m. in response to a complaint about a vicious dog at unit No. 9. The name of the complainant was not listed in the police report.

When the officer arrived at the scene, he met resident Glenda Wero who told him that her dog was tied up in the backyard. As the two went to check on it, a large black dog charged the officer, forcing him to shoot it in self defense, according to the police report.

The dog was hit in the neck or head and injured, though still alive. The officer then left the house, telling Wero to call the tribe's animal control office.

The next day, Wero met with another police officer who told her that new laws passed by the Navajo Nation Council required her to "at least care for the dog."

On Dec. 13, Wero took the dog to a veterinarian who put him to sleep.

Police seek identity of pedestrian killed

Navajo police are investigating a vehicle-pedestrian fatality that occurred Oct. 11 in Church Rock, N.M., about 2:30 a.m. Dec. 11.

At press time Wednesday police were still trying to identify the body so currently the victim is listed as "John Doe."

When tribal police arrived around 2:30 a.m. at the scene - milepost 1 on State Route 566 - they found the body under a white sheet on the southbound shoulder.

Carole Tapahe, 50, of Mariano Lake, N.M., told police she was driving on the road when she was blinded by a car that did not dim its headlights.

Afterward she "noticed an object in the southbound lane before impact and braked slowing down and parked off the road at mile marker 1," the police report said.

Tapahe said another vehicle was behind her but that driver did not stop.

Man injured in explosion

Tribal police are investigating an explosion that occurred Nov. 29 near State Route 566 in Church Rock, N.M., and injured one man.

The victim was identified as Jerry Livingston, 76, of Church Rock.

Police received a call about 11 a.m. reporting an explosion. The caller said the victim was burning.

When police arrived, they found firefighters with the Fort Wingate Fire Department who were treating Livingston. Police were told the explosion possibly started as he was using a propane gas heater to make coffee.

There were no details in the police report about how seriously Livingston was injured.

Death of MV man probed

There's a question about who or what caused the death of a Monument Valley, Ariz., man on Dec. 11.

Police received a phone call asking for an ambulance for Orlando Thinn, 22, who was bleeding and had gone into shock. Family members said they planned to take him to the Kayenta Clinic for treatment.

A while later, police were called again and told that Thinn had stopped breathing. An ambulance had been dispatched and met the family en route to the clinic, and the EMTs pronounced him to be deceased.

No details were given on what kind of injuries Thinn had or how he got them. Police did say a person of interest in this case was Harris Thinn, 23, of Monument Valley.

Woman dies of exposure

Navajo Nation Police reported the first exposure death of the year on Dec. 10. The victim is Betty Lee, 55, of Navajo, N.M.

Lee was reported missing Dec. 7 by family members after they conducted a search around her home. Tribal police began searching Dec. 8 and continued until 2 a.m. the following morning.

The search resumed later that day but not until the following day was Lee's body found near a fence some 3.5 miles west of the Red Lake Chapter House. A bottle of vodka was found next to the body, police said.

The Criminal Investigations Department is looking into the circumstances surrounding Lee's death.

Tolani Lake man injured

The FBI is working with Navajo tribal police to investigate an aggravated battery case that took place Dec. 12 in Tolani Lake Chapter.

Police said the victim, Chuck James, 40, reportedly got into a fight with his brother-in-law, David Harry, 39, of Tolani Lake, Ariz. Harry allegedly told police that he knocked James out and beat him with a plastic pipe or toy.

James sustained major trauma to his head and was transported to Flagstaff Medical Center.

Police probe Jemez man's death

ALBUQUERQUE - Albuquerque FBI and Jemez Pueblo Police are investigating the discovery of a man's body.

Investigators were called Dec. 8 after someone reported finding the body of Jemez Pueblo member Jonathan Waquie, 61, in a hilly area west of Jemez, N.M.

The cause of death is pending medical tests, which could take several weeks.

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