Brookings man cited for firing gun in city
Written by Scott Graves, Pilot staff writer   
December 21, 2012 10:00 pm

A Brookings man was cited for reckless endangering Wednesday after he fired a hand gun while walking his dog on Easy Street, hitting another dog and an occupied vehicle.

Nobody was injured, but police believe William Hammond, 68, over reacted when he pulled out a 9mm semi-automatic gun to scare off a large dog that Hammond believed was attacking his, said Brookings Police Lt. Donny Dotson.

“I don’t think he intended to endanger anyone, but he did,” Dotson said. “It was probably a gut reaction, but he shouldn’t have fired the gun. He could have yelled at the dog or picked up a rock or stick and used it.”

According to Dotson, Hammond was walking his small dog on Easy Street near Easy Manor Park at 8 a.m. when, according to Hammond, a large dog left its front yard and attacked his dog. Hammond took out his gun and fired a shot over the heads of the two dogs. When the dogs didn’t separate, he fired a second shot, striking the large dog, a 120-pound American bulldog, in the torso.

At the same time, Brookings resident Vikki Nuss was driving down the street, approaching the scene. She pulled over when she saw the dogs fighting. One of the bullets fired by Hammond’s gun struck and damaged the rear car bumper on the passenger side, Nuss said.

“I was driving on my way to work when I saw a dog attacking the other dog and they spilled out into the street in front of me,” Nuss said. “I pulled over and started honking my horn, thinking it might break up the fight. Then I watched as this guy pulled out a gun and started firing.

“I heard something hit my car. I didn’t stick around. I drove right to the police station to report it.”

She added, “I don’t know what was scarier: seeing that dog attack the other one so viciously, or the guy shooting off his gun.”

The Pilot’s attempts to reach Hammond for comment were unsuccessful.

Sherry Strain, owner of Ace, the dog that allegedly attacked Hammond’s dog, felt that Hammond overreacted.

“Ace is a big teddy bear; he’d never hurt anyone,” Strain said. “My two girls ride him like a horse. They sleep with him. He’s never showed any signs of aggression.”

The dog was in the front yard and ran over to Hammond’s dog when she looked away.

She said Ace is sometimes over exuberant in playing with other dogs and thinks Hammond may have mistakenly thought Ace was attacking his dog.

“He could have just yelled at the dog to go home or kick him, and he would have gone away,” she said. “Instead he pulled out a gun and started shooting.”

Nuss is convinced the large dog was not playing around. 

“I am shaken and very stirred right now. The images of the (dog) attacking that dog and a man shooting a gun in my neighborhood will remain with me for years,” she said.

According to Strain, a bullet went through her dog’s rib cage and out the other side. On Friday, the dog was home recovering from surgery.

“He had his spleen removed and they had to do exploratory surgery to see if any other organs were hit,” she said. “I think he will do fine.”

Dotson said it wasn’t clear exactly what happened between the two dogs, but it was clear that Hammond violated state law by firing a gun in city limits.

“In the city it’s a crime to fire a gun, except to protect yourself or your property,” Dotson said. “In this case, he was protecting his property, the dog, but he didn’t do it in a safe manner. He didn’t position himself in a way to ensure there was an adequate backstop.”

Dotson sympathized with Hammond a little. “It was a 125-pound dog and he’s 68, so his options were limited, but the path he chose could have been better; he could have hurt or killed someone.”