True Crime, May 14, 2008 

The Strong and the Skinny

Boise Police are trying to track down a man with strong arms and tight pants.

Update: The man's arms may not be all that beefy. In fact, the witnesses from the Federal Credit Union branch he robbed last Thursday at about 3 p.m. described him as "very thin," but because he acted in a threatening manner, investigators are still calling it a strong-arm robbery.

The snugness of the man's jeans is not under debate, however. He reportedly accessorized his painted-on trousers with a dark hooded sweater with some manner of lettering scrawled across the front, a black ski mask with no nose opening, black gloves, blue jeans and white tennis shoes. His skinny little stems were last seen carrying him northward across a parking lot on the 8600 block of W. Emerald.

Trailer Trap

The lure of Lady Narcotica transformed troopers into snoopers last Friday night in a Pocatello trailer park. A handful of city officers were hoping to find enough white powder in the mobile home to make a collar on the inhabitant. Instead, they found enough black powder to make the mobile home into powder. The Pocatello Pee-Dee rang the Idaho Falls Bomb Squad from a few clicks to the northeast and made a plea all too familiar to Idaho municipal police forces. We'll dub it here "Code H," short for "Hey-man-we-found-this-here-funny-looking-thing-with-a-fuse-and-I-don't-mean-funny-haha-I-just-peed-myself-how's-the-family-bring-your-fancy-big-city-bomb-robot-now." A friendly cyborg from the next county over soon removed ID's version of an IED from the trailer and destroyed the device with a water cannon. As of Monday, police had yet to announce the name of the trailer's inhabitant and any charges he or she could eventually face.

Showdown at the Felt Corral

The Teton County Sheriff's Office deputy who shot Bobby has resigned. Bobby, for those unaware, was a dog—and is a dog and shall be a dog for a while longer, having survived a assassination attempt last summer by deputy Joseph Gutierrez. According to the blitzkrieg of stories published over the last six months by Eastern Idaho newsies, the sheriff's office had responded to several complaints from neighbors about a "vicious pitbull" running loose and harassing children. Alas for Bobby, he was this pitbull. Double-alas, the most recent complaint arrived when the officer who usually handles the Bobby-beat was taking a day off. That officer called Gutierrez instead, and reportedly told him, "Maybe we oughta just go shoot the thing."

Was it a joke or a command? A knee-slapper or a dog-capper? There's no doubt how it was interpreted. Gutierrez drove over to owner Leo Barboza's house and told him he was there to kill Bobby and did not need to provide proof that the dog had bitten or attacked anyone. Barboza pleaded for his dog's life, according to a police report recapped in the Jackson Hole News & Guide, but the officer simply ordered the owner to bring out the dog and tie him to a pole. Gutierrez shot the pit bull once in the neck and twice in the head, while Barboza, his father-in-law, wife, 3-year-old son and a school bus full of children who had unloaded nearby (no kidding) stood and watched. The father-in-law is first on that list because he may have actually gotten the worst of the incident. He reportedly suffered an anxiety attack the following evening, during which the family called for an ambulance—along with a request for a reporting officer other than Gutierrez.

If only the story ended there. Instead, the Barbozas reportedly left for two days while the wounded beast festered under their trailer house. He survived, but the Sheriff's Office has indicated in its press released that the Barboza's delayed treatment of their resilient pooch is proof of their negligence as owners. The family, on the other hand, filed a civil tort claim for $250,000, the cap for non-economic damages, against Teton County, calling Gutierrez's dog-hit "cruel, inhumane, outrageous and unlawful."

The Idaho Attorney General's Office was called in to investigate the case and last week charged Gutierrez with one count of misdemeanor animal cruelty. He is scheduled to appear in court May 15.

Cops Crack Pikeminnow Cartel

A pair of men from The Dalles are suspected of trying to exploit a loophole in Oregon law that allowed them to start up a business as fish-farmers. Then again, maybe farming isn't the right analogy for Reggie Dawson, 56, and John Brown, 46. Their idea of a field was a cage stuck on the side of a boat fin, and their cash crop was the pikeminnow, an obnoxious, toothy beast which they allegedly hoarded in the cages and sold to the government, reports The Dalles Chronicle.

Then again, maybe selling isn't the right description, either. After all, Brown and Dawson's only customer, the Northern Pikeminnow Sport Reward Fishery program, doesn't so much buy the predatory fish as offer a bounty on their heads to keep them from eating juvenile salmon. The only, er, catch is that anglers are supposed to catch the pikeminnow by legal methods and only sell them after registering for a day of fishing in the Columbia River. In other words, no stockpiling allowed. Police searched Dawson's boat at a Dalles marina and cited the pair with attempted theft by deception and unlawful holding of fish without a permit.

Kops in Kalispell

It'll be a cold day in Kalispell, Mont., before this Idaho crime column wanders its way onto the other side of the continental divide. And cold it was last Friday—probably—when reports of a thief, a conehead and a ghost kept police tangled up in nonsense for a few hours. At 2:25 a.m., according to an account in the Kalispell Flathead Beacon, a local woman called in to report a partially successful trampoline robbery. The thief had abandoned the bouncy booty just halfway across the victim's fence. At 8:17 p.m., a homeowner rang to report that a suspicious man with a "tilted head" had been walking between his shop building and some nearby train tracks. Police tracked down the suspicious non-flat-headed Flatheadite, who said he was just out for a walk. And finally, at that bewitching stretch of early morn between 3ish and 4ish, employees at a gas station rang to report that it sounded like someone was tapping on the glass, but when they would go outside to check, no one was there.

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