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War hero dog saved soldiers in Afghanistan only to be killed in Arizona: Wrong dog euthanized at Pinal County pound – UPDATE: Employee fired

A dog named Target, who not only survived the war in Afghanistan but also saved soldiers from a suicide bomber, was taken home by her soldier owner to Arizona – only to be killed in the Pinal County pound.

War hero dog Target was mistakenly euthanized in Arizona/Photo courtesy AZ Republic

A Pinal County Animal Care and Control employee euthanized the wrong dog Nov. 15, says a county news release. The employee was placed on paid administrative leave.

Some solace.

Target, a female shepherd mix who gained national recognition and was even featured on the “Oprah Winfrey Show,” was one of three dogs credited with saving the lives of several soldiers, including that of Sgt. Terry Young, The Arizona Republic notes.

Young bonded with the dog – for obvious reasons – and was able to bring her to his home in San Tan Valley in August, where she became part of the family that includes Young’s wife and three children.

All was dandy until the morning of Nov. 12, when Young saw the backyard gate was open and the war-hero dog was gone. She had neither tags nor a microchip. Reports did not note if she had been wearing her usual pink camouflage bandanna.

Young called local media and sent out his own online announcements in a bid to find his missing dog. Target was eventually located at Pinal County pound’s Casa Grande location, where she was taken after a man found her and called animal control.

“She’s in the pound. At least she’s safe,” Young told the Republic.

“When it comes to euthanizing an animal, there are some clear-cut procedures to follow,” the release quotes animal control Director Ruth Stalter. “Based on my preliminary investigation, our employee did not follow those procedures.”

Young also told the Republic his 4-year-old daughter is having an incredibly hard time with Target’s death. “She’s saying we need to get the poison out of her so she can come home. She can’t grasp the idea that she’s gone.”

Definitely a reminder to keep our pets contained, tagged, microchipped and under close watch at home where they’ll get love and protection – not a deadly needle.

UPDATE 11/23:

Update from Pinal County: Animal Care & Control Employee Terminated

FLORENCE – A Pinal County Animal Care & Control employee was terminated today following an investigation into the accidental euthanasia of a dog on Monday. Pinal County launched an investigation on Monday, on the same day that the dog was euthanized. The dog in question was “Target,” a street dog from Afghanistan who became a lifesaving hero when she thwarted an attack by a suicide bomber. She was later brought to the US by volunteers and private donors to live in San Tan Valley with a soldier’s family.

“We are continuing to look into management practices and procedures at Animal Care & Control to ensure that something like this cannot happen again,” said Lisa Garcia, Assistant County Manager for Health & Human Services

Pinal County is declining to name the individual due to threats made against the employee in online article comments and in telephone calls to the county.


What do you think?

Should the dog’s owner sue?

What’s the worst mistake you’ve made at work?

Has your pet ever gotten away? What happened?

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Candy Store Show Club killer never caught, family of victim Angel Martinez keeps memory, hope for justice alive

Native Tucsonan Angel Martinez was a young man with a bright smile and plans for an even brighter future, his sister said – but all light was snuffed out when the 20-year-old was fatally shot in front of the Candy Store Show Club last year.

Angel Martinez/submitted photo

Although nearly 13 months have passed since his Oct. 28, 2009, murder, his sister Melissa Carrasco, other family members and friends are bent on a twofold mission.

They are determined to keep his memory alive – and they are equally as determined to get his killer behind bars.

The first part of their mission continues Sunday, Nov. 21, with a memorial march for Angel Martinez from 10 a.m. to noon. The march starts in front of the Candy Store, 1104 S. Craycroft Rd, and ends in Reid Park. Other events in his honor have included last month’s successful basketball tournament.

“We want to show the community that Angel was a caring person who touched many of us in different ways,” Carrasco said of her brother, known for his “huge bear hugs” and “great big smile with cute dimples.”

The second part of their mission is a bit trickier.

Although the suspected shooter, Cliffton Martinez, was arrested mere hours after Angel was fatally wounded, the case was thrown out when a key witness faltered and said he could no longer identify Cliffton as the main shooter, Carrasco said.

Case dismissed.

Looking over Cliffton’s criminal record, which includes a two-year prison sentence for a weapons misconduct charge, one sees several dismissals.

Cliffton Martinez/AZ Dept of Corrections photo

While the Arizona Department of Corrections noted Cliffton did not squeak by without serving some prison time until his Nov. 2008 release, he managed to slide through several charges with a paltry penalty or none at all.

To be fair, the Arizona Judicial Branch website does reveal a few guilty charges, including one with jail time, for his consistent underage consumption of alcohol and equally consistent habit of having liquor in a vehicle.

But other charges blew away with the wind.

No valid license. Failure to show valid license or identification. Liquor in vehicle. Another liquor in vehicle. Underage alcohol consumption. Improper light on license plate.

Dismissed, dismissed, dismissed.

An April 2009 traffic stop, where he ended up with five citations including speeding, not having a valid license and failure to stop on a peace officer’s command, resulted in a few fines.

Even though some of the charges are minor, like improper light on a license plate, the guy seems adept at skimming through the system. Perhaps it’s not a surprise he shimmied through once again, even on a first-degree murder charge.

Although Cliffton was in jail for nearly a year after Angel’s death, he was set free just before the trial.

“Since then, our family has teamed up with 88-CRIME and we have posted flyer’s around town in hopes to have someone come forward with more detailed information regarding the night he was murdered,” Carrasco said.

The initial Tucson Police Department news release said Angel had been inside the Candy Store speaking with two men and, when he went to leave, he was confronted by several other men who had also been inside the club. Police believe the suspects are active gang members and gang unit detectives joined the investigation.

Angel, who was one of six kids, was always someone people could count on, his sister added, whether it be his family, friends, teachers or employers.

As a junior in Tucson High School he worked for El Rio Community Center.

“He instantly found a love for his job as a referee in sports and then later as a recreational worker for the young KIDCO children that attended,” his sister said, adding he was into basketball himself. “He was a great role model and a mentor to them.”

After graduating high school in 2008, Angel enrolled in Pima Community College where he was aiming to major in engineering. But he also had a creative side.

“He enjoyed…all aspects of music including making his own music as an upcoming and inspiring artist,” Carrasco said. “He was also inspired to one day open up a clothing line with many sketches and designs left behind that our family hopes to one day fulfill for him.”

“He was a genuine and sincere young man that was always trying to help others in need in one way or another.

“We are to determined to seek justice for my brother’s death and will not stop searching for ways till justice is served.”


What do you think?

Are too many cases dismissed, dismissed, dismissed?

Have you ever had a case dismissed?

Did you know Angel Martinez? Please comment below.

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Tucson man shot dead for being in 'wrong place at wrong time' – Killer of Julius Lat still on the loose

Julius Lat used to always say he would never make it to age 30, said his fiancée Jessica Catalan. He didn’t.

He instead ended up fatally shot in the head Aug. 6 – at age 24 – with his death following two days later on Aug. 8.

Jessica Catalan and Julius Lat/MySpace photo

While he may be gone, Catalan is making sure he’s not forgotten – and calling on anyone with information to come forward – as Lat’s killer is still on the loose.

Catalan is hoping the full story, rather than leaving the report of his death as a vague “group fight,” might jog some memories and result in some leads.

The story of Lat’s death actually starts two days prior to his shooting, with the death of Catalan’s 35-year-old cousin. The cousin, who lived with the couple, accidentally shot himself. Catalan, Lat and others had spent Aug. 6 at a car wash to raise funds for her cousin’s burial to honor his last wishes.

When Catalan and Lat returned to their home at South Freemont Avenue and East Calle Nevada, near the intersection of South Park Avenue and East Irvington Road, a neighbor told them some guy had been hanging out near their house all day.

The man had moved across the street and was in the liquor store by the time they returned.

“We didn’t know who he was or what he wanted,” Catalan said, adding she heard the guy had been acting suspiciously around the building, changing his clothes in the bushes, sitting on a bench next to a young girl.

Thinking he might have known her cousin who died, Catalan called her cousin’s girlfriend to come check out the guy to see if she recognized him. The girlfriend came by with about five or six guys, friends of the departed cousins, and the girlfriend bolted across at the street to the liquor store to check out the strange man.

“The guys went with her,” Catalan said. “Unfortunately, one out of the bunch was not a well-headed individual.”

She got about halfway across the street, realized she didn’t recognize him and then turned around. But the guys went to confront the strange man.

The non-well-headed friend “was already heated. Emotions were high. Everybody was not taking my cousin’s death very well,” Catalan said. It didn’t help the family learned that, after “busting their butts” with an all-day car wash raising funds for a burial, the cousin’s parents already picked to have him cremated.

Lat walked into this climate, into the group of guys that included five of the cousin’s friends and the man from the liquor store.

“He was telling everybody that’s enough, just leave it alone,” Catalan said of what she heard of the incident. “He said ‘Let’s go back to the house.’” In addition to Catalan, the house contained her three kids as well as one of her female cousins and that woman’s two kids.

Julius Lat and Jessica Catalan/MySpace photo

“There were two women and five kids in the house,” Catalan said. “Julius wanted to make sure we were safe.”

They were. Julius wasn’t.

A man who had been standing off to the side – that didn’t even appear to be part of the fray – suddenly came forward and pulled a gun out of his backpack, Catalan said.

He aimed the gun at the “non-well-headed” cousin’s friend and pulled the trigger.

“He missed that friend, he missed another friend – and ended up hitting Julius in the head,” Catalan said. “His body fell on Suarez Tire Shop property.”

Police were on the scene immediately and Lat was taken to University Medical Center. Once in the operating room, however, surgeons could not operate.

“He started bleeding out of everywhere,” Catalan said. “The IV lines, the puncture wounds, everything. They thought the best thing to do was bandage him up and help him breathe.”

Catalan was still at the scene of the crime at the time, where her anxiety “shot through the roof” and her blood pressure started soaring.

She was taken to University Physicians Center – where she found out she was pregnant with Lat’s child.

She made her way to Lat’s hospital bedside as soon as she was able and stayed there until he was officially declared dead two days later.

Catalan miscarried near the end of October.

All this, and, yes, the killer is still on the loose.

“They got away through the neighborhood,” Catalan said of the two suspects. “There were witnesses but no one is coming forward.”

The initial report from police in August describe the suspects as: “Hispanic males, 18 to 25 years old. One male was 5’ 11” tall and wearing a black Raiders jersey. The other male was 5 7” tall with a thin build, wearing a light colored polo shirt and carrying a black backpack.”

Catalan reminds people they can remain anonymous when leaving any tips.

Her own phone calls to the police went from once a day, to once a week, to now once a month, on the sixth, the day Lat was shot.

The couple only knew each other for about six months, but had no doubt they clicked.

They met through a mutual friend when Lat was released from prison February after serving two years on a burglary charge. The two got tattoos of each other’s names two weeks after they met.

“He was soft spoken, very quiet and reserved,” Catalan said of the Hawaiian native. “I’m very loud, outspoken. He would laugh and say we level each other out.”

Her three kids, too, adored him, looked at him as a role model.

“He was a good guy, a stand-up guy,” she said. “He was all about respect. He was just at the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Police – and Catalan – urge anyone with information on the suspects to call 911 or 88-CRIME.

Original post at:

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Belly button lint World Record, woman keeps dead body in car – Rynski radio – UPDATE with playlist and download

It may have taken 26 years and plenty of color-coded jars of fibers, but an Australian man earned himself a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records for the largest collection of belly button lint.

Didn't have any belly button lint pix, but did have some dog hairball art/Art and photo Ryn Gargulinski

That story and more are up this week on Rynski’s Shattered Reality radio show on and FM 94.9 in Hudson Valley, N.Y.

Next show is Wednesday, Oct. 27 (today!) and every Wednesday online at Showtime is noon in Arizona, 3 p.m. EST.

Party 934 is a radio alternative for listeners sick of stations that play one song followed by 500 commercials.

ANIMALS are up again as the song theme and we have everything from rats to rabbits with the weekly polka fix in between.

Thanks! to all who offer suggestions.

What: Rynski’s Shattered Reality Internet radio show
When: Every Wednesday for one hour
Time: Noon in Arizona, 3 p.m. EST
Where: and FM 94.9 in Hudson Valley

CALL FOR SONGS – In honor of the Halloween and All Souls season, let’s get some songs that are spooky, creepy, mystical or downright scary. Please leave suggestions below.


Missed the show? CLICK HERE to download

Playlist for Rynski’s Shattered Reality 10/27:

Theme: Animals, part 2 of 2

Blondie – I Know but I Don’t Know (“I’m your dog but not your pet…”)

The Rolling Stones – Stray Cat Blues (Stones always for Deb in AZ)

Gwar – Penguin Attack

Palemiger Spatzen – Harmonica Polka Party (polka always for parents)

Frank Zappa – Hot Rats (Alan in Kent WA)

Jefferson Airplane – White Rabbit (Oldwest2 in AZ)

Godsmack – Voodoo (Beezel) (Mentions snake bite)

Dredg – Penguins in the Desert (Radmax in AZ)

Frank Zappa – Baby Snakes (KoreyK in AZ even though he mentioned other Zappa)

Black Sabbath – War Pigs

The Beatles – Little Piggies

Animal Collective – Penguin Penguin

What’s your favorite spooky, creepy or mystical song?

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Justice for Tucson teen: Cross-dressing America's Most Wanted fugitive arrested in Mexico after 10 years

Even possible breast implants and dressing as a woman was not enough to hide fugitive Max Montijo-Lamadrid from U.S. Marshals.

Tucson teen Tanee Natividad was shot and killed in 2001/Photo courtesy MySpace tribute page

Lamadrid, 34, who was able to elude authorities for a decade by “assuming another identity” and moving frequently all around Mexico, was arrested Oct. 19, according to a news release from the U.S. Marshals Service.

Noted as one of Pima County’s and America’s Most Wanted, Lamadrid had a warrant out for first-degree murder in connection with the shooting death of Tucson teen Tanee Natividad on Nov. 18, 2001.

Natividad, a 16-year-old Palo Verde High School student, was with a friend sitting in a car at the Jack-in-the-Box drive through at Speedway Boulevard and Swan Road when she was shot in the head.

Marshals say LaMadrid indiscriminately opened fire on the car as he believed the vehicle contained a person who had earlier shot and killed one of his friends in the restaurant parking lot.

He was wrong. Lemadrid and Natividad had never met.

Max Montijo-Lamadrid was arrested in Mexico Oct. 19/Photo courtesy Pima County Attorney website

Lamadrid spent the next decade so bent on avoiding capture that investigators thought he possibly got a boob job to better hide his identity, according to America’s Most Wanted website.

“(Investigators) believe that the murder suspect may have undergone breast implant surgery to appear more like a woman,” America’s Most Wanted noted. “They also believe that Montijo-LaMadrid habitually crosses the Arizona-Mexico border dressed as a woman.”

Lamadrid was taken into custody by the Sonora State Investigative Police, in Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico, and will be transported to Mexico City by the Mexico Federal Investigative Agency.

There he will await extradition to Pima County, pursuant to a provisional arrest warrant.

Party’s over, dudette.


What do you think?

The U.S. Marshals are on a roll this week – is that the agency you respect the most?

Why or why not?