Behind the scenes: Dog in park shot in face, 10-day investigation that led to arrest

Behind the scenes: Dog in park shot in face, 10-day investigation that led to arrest

(As originally published with more photos, Thu, April 14th 2022, 9:22 AM EDT)

JUPITER, Fla. (CBS12) — Two sisters, and two other women close to the suspect, are being credited for the arrest of the man who is now charged with shooting a dog in the face.

CBS12 News did a close read of the arrest report which spells out how deputies and a detective worked for ten days until they made the arrest, and what that poor dog went through to get on the road to recovery.

The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office got the call in the evening of Saturday, April 2, “in regards to a dog that was just shot in the face with a firearm while at the Kennedy Estates Park” in Jupiter.

Deputies say two witnesses told them they were walking to the park and saw “a white four-door Honda pulled up to the park and parked along the sidewalk just outside the park entrance.”

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They described the suspect, Benjamine Brown, 19, in detail and according to the detective, they said he “exited the passenger side of the vehicle and approached a pack of loose dogs within the park. As the male walked up to a brown dog, he pulled a black firearm from his sweater, pointed it at this dog from close range, and fired one round at the dog. The witnesses fled in the opposite direction from the shooter to find shelter. However, once they got a distance away [one of them] took a photograph of the vehicle fleeing the area towards Indiantown Road while [the other] called 911. Both were in shock after seeing this incident take place and provided all the information they could to best describe the suspect and the vehicle which the suspect arrived and fled in.”

Next, they looked around.

A detective wrote that after “a search of the area and the blood trail,” they found “a small brown/white dog, later identified as a Chocolate Lab mix, named ‘Boots,’ that sustained a close range single shot to the top of his snout and exit wound at the top of his neck. At the time of locating the injured dog, it was bleeding from the mouth, conscious, and walking on its own. Due to the immediately unknown injuries sustained the injured dog was taken by Animal Care & Control to a local vet for immediate care. Also found on scene of this incident, inside the park, near the area of the shooting, was a single spent casing for a 40 caliber round that was fired. This was collected for future evidence review and comparison if a firearm is recovered.”

That’s exactly what happened, eventually.

First, the detective wrote that the owner of the dog “was visibly upset about what took place and that one of his dogs was just shot. It was learned through a taped victim statement that [he] has multiple dogs from the same litter as the one that was shot and they all normally roam the park freely then return home. [The owner] was inside of his residence when he heard the shot and came outside at which time he learned his dog, named “Boots” was shot while in the park. [He] described the dog as a Labrador/chow mix that is brown with white paws. [He] provided in his sworn statement that he does desire prosecution in this case if the suspect is located.”

Two days later, the detective got assigned to the case and started trying to identify the vehicle and the suspect.

…causing a fractured lower draw bone and several teeth being knocked out.

Tuesday, April 5, an Animal Care & Control officer reported that Boots was “in recovery from surgery and expected to survive. Boots sustained a single gunshot through the top of his snout, which traveled through the roof of the mouth, and exited the lower snout/top of the neck, causing a fractured lower draw bone and several teeth being knocked out. He has undergone reconstructive surgery for this jawbone and his recovering well. Boots was confirmed by Animal Care & Control to be just under a year old, weighing approximately 45 lbs, and he was chocolate/white in color with front white boots.”

Then, disappointment turned into a blessing.

Friday, “After exhausted investigative leads and attempts to identify the suspect in this case, I released a photograph of the suspect vehicle, photograph of Boots, and a brief description of the incident pleading for the public’s assistance.”

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Quickly, “multiple anonymous tips through Crime Stoppers and concerned citizens came in regarding this case. These tips immediately provided leads that the persons involved, as well as the vehicle involved, associate with [a home in Jupiter]. They also identified the suspect shooter as Benjamine P. Brown, another involved party being a female…”

jumped when firing the shot as if it was the first time he ever used it

This past Saturday, the detective met with the two witnesses separately at their home. One said about the park that night, “the dogs were playing [in] the swing set area and stated the dogs would not get close to the male walking towards them. At this point, the occupants of the vehicle asked the witnesses if the dogs belonged to them and they did not initially answer, however when they saw the mail getting closer to the dogs they told the occupants of the vehicle that the dogs belonged to the guy across the street. [She] described suddenly hearing the shot and saw that the male in the park was holding a small gun in his hand. The male also jumped when firing the shot as if it was the first time he ever used it. He then put the gun in his pocket and ran back to the car, entered it, and began to leave the area.”

She added, there was at least one other person in the car, a woman, and perhaps a fourth person. Her sister said she was sure there were three other people still inside the car.

…the dogs were not acting aggressive towards the suspect, that in fact they were not going towards him…

Afterward, the detective wrote, “It should be noted that both witnesses also stated the dogs were not acting aggressive towards the suspect, that in fact they were not going towards him so the suspect had to go to them across the park.”

Monday, deputies found the car in the driveway of the home mentioned in Crime Stoppers tips. They got evidence “confirming that this vehicle was in the area of Indiantown Road and Island Way on April 2, 2022 between 5pm and 8:30pm.”

But there was more to the car; something around its license plate exactly. “It was also found that the vehicle on this date had a black bracket around the tag, exactly identical to the vehicle that was involved with this incident, however the current time of locating it there was not a crystal-studded license plate bracket around the tag. It also appears through the investigation that the black bracket was removed on the same date as the media posting of the vehicle and the new one currently on the vehicle was placed on.”

They put surveillance on the car and found a man driving a woman. The man, who was not Benjamine Brown, wasn’t wearing a seatbelt. Deputies conducted a traffic stop. They learned the woman who was the passenger owns the car and the man “was detained for operating a vehicle without a driver’s license.”

They asked the pair about the car being at the park when the dog was shot. “Both ultimately confirmed and provided that her Honda was the one pictured on the media post and the one involved with this incident, which is why they changed the tag bracket after seeing it on the news,” according to the arrest report. “[The man] was driving on the date of the incident and [the woman] claimed that she was in the front passenger seat, also inside of the vehicle was Benjamine Brown (AKA Benji), and [another man] whom were both in the back seat.”

As for a motive, “They stated that while passing the park Brown saw the dogs and intended to take one, so they stopped the vehicle and he exited it. As Brown was in the park the occupants were talking to the two witnesses on the sidewalk when they suddenly heard the shot fired and Brown ran back to the vehicle. They advised that they left at that point and subsequently dropped both [the man from the back seat] and Brown to an unknown location then went back to [the driver home]. When asked why Brown shot the dog, they both confirmed that they were told by Brown that when he tried to take one of the dogs the rest of them got aggressive towards him so he claimed that is why he shot one. They did not know what kind of aggression the dogs showed towards him but that was what Brown told them.”

Behind the scenes: Dog in park shot in face, 10-day investigation that led to arrest
Benjamine Brown was arrested 10 days after Boots was shot, April 12, 2022. (Palm Beach Co. Sheriff’s Office)

But investigators wanted to connect the evidence so they got permission from the owner and searched the home. They didn’t find the gun.

However, they spoke with the mother of the man who was driving, the one who didn’t have a license. The detective wrote, “She advised that she will help with locating the firearm involved and took my contact information.”

She did help. So did somebody even closer to Brown.

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Monday afternoon, the woman called the detective “and advised that she located and recovered the firearm used in this incident. She met with me in the parking lot [on Northlake Boulevard in Palm Beach Gardens] and produced a white plastic shopping bag that contained a black Glock model 27 firearm, that was unloaded, and empty magazine loosen the bag. [She] provided that after the incident at her mother’s residence earlier today she contacted Benjamine Brown’s girlfriend [name], who advised to her the firearm was brought to her unknown residence by Brown after the shooting. [The woman] met with [the girlfriend] in the parking lot [of a restaurant on A1A Alt. in Palm Beach Gardens] because [the girlfriend] would not tell her where the residence was. At this time [the girlfriend] turned over the firearm to [the woman] and then she contacted me.”

The detective took the gun and “submitted into evidence for processing in comparison to the recovered shell casing on scene. The firearm was further described to be a black semi-automatic firearm, with black grip, and slide, Glock brand model 27, 40 caliber, and bearing serial [number].”

Benjamin Brown is charged with intentionally causing cruel and excessive unnecessary pain/suffering to an animal, carrying a concealed firearm, and discharging a firearm in public.

He was booked at 4:19 p.m. Tuesday and released on bail just before 2 a.m. Wednesday.

The detective credited witness statements, evidence collected, and identifications made through Crime Stoppers.

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