Case Snapshot
Case ID: 16154
Classification: Beating, Drowning
Animal: cat
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Sunday, Jan 31, 2010

County: Missoula

Charges: Felony CTA
Disposition: Dismissed
Case Images: 3 files available

Person of Interest: Gary Lee Bassett

Case Updates: 3 update(s) available

The Missoula Police Department is investigating a possible animal abuse case involving a man who's accused of trying to drown a 4-month-old kitten by flushing it down his toilet.

Since airing the story on Monday, KPAX in Missoula has received a lot of questions about why the man has not been arrested after reports about the extent of the kitten's injuries.

The city attorney's office says that according to state law there are two Montana statutes that apply to this situation, both resulting in felony charges to the individual, but the county attorney's office has not yet seen the paperwork on this case.

A neighbor called in authorities late Sunday night to report a disturbance.

Missoula resident Stephanie Lyons was headed outside to smoke a late night cigarette on Sunday when she was alerted to the situation.

"I just heard a man sobbing, saying ‘Please God, help me. Please, oh God,'" Lyons said. She dialed 911.

Missoula police responded to the address on 38th Street and that's when they found a kitten barely alive and in pretty bad shape, but she was still alive. She was rushed to a veterinarian who determined she had a shattered pelvis. The kitten was lucky to be alive, according to the veterinarian.

The man who allegedly beat the animal was not taken into custody, which left 38th Street residents feeling confused and angry.

"I was really taken back that he was in there doing that to a kitten, and I just felt even worse about not hearing it before," Lyons said.

Veterinarians believe the four-month-old kitten named Mercy, is going to make it. With community help, her shattered pelvis will be fixed. Enough money has been given by generous donors to pay for a $900 pelvis surgery for Mercy.

The Missoula County Attorney's Office advised KPAX news staff to check back in the next few days to see if charges were filed

Anyone who would like to help can call 406-541-7387 or send a donation to Injured Kitten Fund, Friend of the Shelter, 6700 Butler Creek Road, Missoula, MT, 59808.

Case Updates

An official with the Missoula County Sheriff's Office identified Gary Lee Bassett as the man who took his own life Thursday after police tried to arrest him on charges of aggravated animal cruelty.

According to Capt. Greg Hintz, the 63-year-old Missoula man died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. A small-caliber handgun was found at the scene of the shooting.

The felony animal cruelty charge related to the case of an abused 4-month-old kitten that police found at Bassett's apartment last Sunday night after neighbors reported hearing screams from the residence. Detectives continued to investigate the case throughout the week, and made other unsuccessful attempts to contact Bassett about the case.

On Thursday, a judge signed a felony arrest warrant for Bassett that carried a $100,000 bail and police went to the man's apartment around 1 p.m. to take him into custody.

Bassett refused to come to the door, however, even after an officer spoke with him on the telephone. When the officer entered the apartment, he heard a single gunshot and immediately left to call for backup.

Not knowing whether Bassett was firing at the police officer, tactical negotiators and a SWAT team arrived at the apartment complex, located on 38th Street, and sealed off the surrounding neighborhoods. After more than an hour, officers entered the apartment and found Bassett's body.

According to charging documents, Bassett threatened to end his life earlier in the week when police detectives briefly made contact with him. He told police that he suffered from clinical depression, the records state, and mental health professionals were called to speak with him, although the nature of that contact is unknown.

Officials with the Missoula County Sheriff's Office have assumed control over the investigation because of the police department's involvement in the case and because the death occurred while police were trying to arrest the suspect.

Sgt. Mike Dominick of the Sheriff's Office said there is no indication of foul play, but that the investigation is ongoing.

On Friday, Assistant Police Chief Mike Brady declined to comment about what procedural steps were taken to assess the man's mental health, citing privacy issues. He would not discuss the case specifically because the investigation is ongoing.

"At this point, I can't discuss the investigative steps that were taken to deal with this individual because an investigation is pending, and it's being handled by another agency," Brady said. "All I can say is that steps were taken to try and deal with this situation as appropriately as we could."

On Friday, Missoula County Justice Court records showed that Bassett's case status had been changed to "disposed."
Source: The Missourian News - February 6, 2010
Update posted on Feb 6, 2010 - 12:16PM 
The standoff at the apartment of a man accused in a kitten abuse case in Missoula has reportedly ended after the man shot himself.

The man who was accused of trying to flush a four-month-old kitten down a toilet after abusing it earlier this week died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to the Missoula Police Department.

Officers responded to the scene around 1:20 p.m. on February 4, 2010, and sealed off the neighborhood around Dore Lane and 38th Street.

Officers surrounded the unit where the man lives, and a SWAT team was being brought to the scene, according to a Missoula Police Department spokesman.

Some residents with children living on 38th Street were evacuated to the K Mart parking lot on Brooks Street. In addition, Dore Lane is closed, and residents on nearby Roy Drive are being told to stay in their homes.

The man's death comes the day after a cat, known as Mercy, had to be euthanized after an MRI showed it had a broken back.

Animal control responded to a home on 38th Street Sunday night when neighbors reported screaming coming from inside. When police arrived they found the kitten soaking wet, bloody and unresponsive.

Missoula Animal Control officials say that the suspect tried to flush the kitten down the toilet and that they also believe the suspect either stomped on it or threw it against the wall.
Source: KXLF News - February 4, 2010
Update posted on Feb 4, 2010 - 4:27PM 
A severely abused kitten named Mercy was put down Wednesday after doctors found her spine was broken.

"Her spine was just smashed," said Missoula Animal Control shelter attendant Barb Parker. "It only showed up on high resolution, but the vertebrae were just squished. He stomped her good and really hurt her back, so there was nothing to do."

The shelter adopted the kitten out only to see her returned this week after a brutal beating left her pelvis smashed and an eye filling with blood. The 4-month-old kitten's owner had allegedly tried to drown her in the toilet, and apparently had thrown the animal against the wall or stomped on its back, crushing the pelvis. Part of the cat's head was shaved.

Under investigation as a felony animal cruelty case, the bashing led to an outpouring of donations and outrage from cities across Montana and places as far away as Texas and Pennsylvania.

"This kind of cruelty is so abhorrent to us that it's hard to even read," wrote Wayne and Karen Anderson of Troy. "I'm really, really, really upset with that guy," said Larry Dillree, who called from Ovando.

Dillree said reading the story of abuse distressed him so much he almost stayed home from work. He can't fathom such cruelty even though his own feline doesn't come close to having a winning personality. "We have a cat. She's a grumpy old thing," Dillree said. "I think he needs to go to the Humane Society and clean out the cages for at least a year and not get paid for it," said Joyce Vogel of Hamilton. "... I just think it's awful."
Source: Missoulian News - February 3, 2010
Update posted on Feb 4, 2010 - 3:52AM 


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