Charges won't be filed against a man who shot his neighbor's dog in an incident that has been at the center of public outcry on social media from supporters calling for "Justice for Ludwig."
Kane County State's Attorney Jamie Mosser announced the decision Wednesday, saying that she took the "dozens upon dozens of emails and phone calls" seriously during the investigation into the shooting, but said "based on the facts and the laws that are before me... I cannot charge [Hal Phipps] as a result of this shooting."
"It is my belief that the evidence that we have now shows that Mr. Phipps feared for his safety and his life, and was legally justified in the shooting of Ludwig," Mosser said during a press conference. "As such, no charges will be filed against Mr. Phipps, for the shooting of Ludwig."
Phipps, who is the husband of Wayne Village President Eileen Phipps, told authorities he shot the dog, named Ludwig, when it came onto his property last month, saying he "feared for his life."
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According to a police report from Wayne police at the time, officers from the department and the Kane County sheriff's office were called to the 5N600 block of Pearson Drive for a report of shots fired. There, they found that a homeowner had "fired multiple shots from a handgun at a neighbor’s two dogs who he stated were on his property and aggressively blocking his path from his boat dock, where he was standing, back to his residence."
One dog was shot and killed in the gunfire, police said.
The dogs' owner, Joe Petit, had let the animals go swimming in the Fox River with a woman at the home, he said.
"My boy Ludwig was shot and killed while fetching sticks in the Fox River," Petit wrote on Facebook after the shooting. "He was a Dogo Argentinos who left behind his littermate, Philo. His murder was premeditated and justice needs to be served."
A Facebook group titled "Justice for Ludwig" has since garnered more than 3,000 supporters.
According to officials, a witness reported hearing loud barking near the river before a single shot was fired.
Mosser said that because the woman was not near the dogs at the time of the shooting, and not in the direction shots were fired, charges of reckless discharge of a firearm or reckless conduct did not apply.
"The evidence through the video and through the eyewitness, is that the woman was some distance away from Ludwig, when he was shot," Mosser said.
Mosser also noted that Phipps had reported he feared the dogs due to a previous attack in June, which remained under investigation.
"I read the report from the June 29 incident and I reviewed the photos," Mosser said. "Having reviewed their report, I can say that the officer believed that the marks that were found on the pants of Mr. Phipps, in that case, along with what appeared to be a puncture wound on his leg were consistent with a dog attack."
Mosser noted that a neighbor reported after the June 29 incident that Phipps said he would shoot the dogs if they ever came onto his property again.
"This statement... does not negate the fear that Mr. Phipps has said that he was under along with the evidence that showed that the dogs were in fact, barking in an aggressive and wild manner," Mosser said. "That evidence supported his fear for his life was bodily safety."
Mosser said that while she was saddened by the case, "I can only decide a case based on the facts and the law that are before me."
"I have to do so in a fair and ethical way, and the facts in the relevant law in this case, show that I cannot charge Mr. Phipps as a result of this shooting," she said.
"As a dog owner myself, I'm deeply saddened by the death of Ludwig."