Case Snapshot
Case ID: 18609
Classification: Vehicular
Animal: bird (wildlife)
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Sunday, Aug 28, 2011

County: Middlesex

Disposition: Alleged

Alleged: Christopher Berry

A 19-year-old Billerica man is charged with animal cruelty after police say he used birdseed to lure a flock of pigeons to the parking lot of the Shops at Billerica during Hurricane Irene, then plowed into them with his car, slaughtering six birds.

In Lowell District Court yesterday, Christopher Berry, of 219 Shoreline Drive, pleaded innocent to one count of animal cruelty. He was released on personal recognizance.

Berry is due back in court for a pretrial conference on Nov. 10.

Berry was summonsed into court and appeared without an attorney. Contacted by The Sun, he said he had no comment.

According to court documents, a Billerica Department of Public Works employee, who was working during Hurricane Irene, told police that at 2:52 p.m. on Aug. 28 , he was parked in the Billerica Mall parking lot when he saw the occupants of a red car put out birdseed for a large flock of pigeons.

As the birds gathered near the car to eat the seed, the driver "suddenly took off," driving the car through the flock, court documents state.

Billerica Officer Timothy McKenna wrote in court documents that based on the DPW worker's description, the driver intended to "purposefully and maliciously inflict harm and injury upon the birds."

When McKenna arrived at the parking lot, he found the remains of six dead pigeons on the pavement; "all seemed to have suffered traumatic injuries," he wrote. There were feathers, blood and internal organs on the pavement, he wrote.

On the ground was birdseed, he wrote.

The DPW worker followed the car as it drove out of the parking lot so that he could provide police with a license plate number. The 1998 red Saturn was registered to Berry.

When police went to Berry's home, they found the Saturn pulling into the driveway with Berry behind the wheel and a friend in the passenger seat, according to court documents.

The officer noticed gray feathers stuck to the car with a large clump of feathers embedded in the hood and in the grill, with more feathers in the wheel wells, court documents state.

Berry allegedly told police he and a friend were in the mall parking lot feeding the pigeons when multiple cars drove through a group of birds, causing feathers to fly and stick to his car, according to court documents.

Police asked Berry why, as an active member of the Massachusetts Army National Guard, he wasn't deployed to help during Hurricane Irene. Berry allegedly told police he was released from duty the day before and was "sick" again the day of the incident.

If convicted of animal cruelty, Berry could face a maximum sentence of up to 2 1/2 years in the House of Correction in Billerica or up to five years in state prison, and/or a fine of not more than $2,500.

References

« MA State Animal Cruelty Map
« More cases in Middlesex County, MA

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