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CAROLINA FOREST, SC (WMBF) - One Carolina Forest man, a military veteran, is grieving over the loss of his canine companion after his neighbor fatally shot the dog he loves.
The incident report from Horry County Police states 25-year-old Benjamin Wilson, a Myrtle Beach Police officer, returned to his home on Gatewick Court in the Southgate community around 3 p.m. Tuesday afternoon.
When Wilson and his family pulled into their driveway, both his family dog and his neighbor's dog were in the backyard barking.
Wilson claims that the neighbor's dog, Zeus, trapped his wife and children in the car by standing outside the vehicle. Although, according to the report, Wilson was able to get out of the car and into his home without being approached by Coty Calviera's dog.
When Wilson came back outside with his .22 caliber rifle, Zeus was gone and his family was able to get inside the home, the report states.
Wilson says he then went in the backyard to unchain his own dog when Calviera's dog "returned and was aggressive towards him." Wilson attempted to frighten the dog when he "fired one shot in the ground," according to the report.
Dan Beckerman, Calviera's neighbor, says he has never witnessed an aggressive side of Zeus.
"The dog [Zeus] would come over to the car and greet us when we got home. It was friendly; I have a dog myself and a little girl. I've never felt threatened any way shape or form [by Zeus]," states Beckerman.
The police report goes on to state that Wilson's warning shot did not detour Zeus. That's when Wilson raised the rifle and fired three shots, killing Calviera's companion with multiple bullets. Wilson explained in a phone interview Wednesday morning that after he killed the dog, he went inside and called 911 to report the incident.
Another neighbor of Calviera says he can't understand why such a drastic measure was taken against Zeus.
"All [Wilson] had to do is escort the dog back. [Zeus] has never done anything to hurt anybody or close to doing anything to hurt anybody in our neighborhood," claims Joe Montelleone, who lives next door to Wilson.
Montelleone says, in fact, his fiance had been playing with Zeus just minutes before the incident occurred.
"Twenty minutes before it happened, [Zeus] was playing with my two little dogs in the backyard with my fiance."
Calviera explains that a neighbor came to his front door and told him that a man with a gun was outside and a dog had been shot. Calviera goes on to say at that moment, he grabbed a firearm for his own protection after being told a gunman was outside his house and went into his front yard.
"I had no idea if that was my dog [that had been shot] or what was going on in the neighborhood," recalls Calviera. "I did grab my firearm and move to the front of the property to make sure that [my neighbor] could leave fine. I did not see an active shooter in the neighborhood and that was when I disarmed my firearm."
After looking around, but not seeing anyone with a gun, Calviera says he disengaged his weapon and took it back inside his home. At that point Calviera and his mother discovered Zeus' body in the neighboring yard.
"[Zeus] was shot in the chest, in the back, and then once at ground level...and you could see the spray across the lawn. And for someone who is supposed to be trained [with a firearm], they really went out of their way to engage this animal," Calviera sighs.
Before Horry County Animal Services arrived on scene, Calviera's mother took a photo of the dog after it was shot multiple times.
The dog's owner, 27-year-old Calviera, tells WMBF News he was recently diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after his military service, and it was suggested he get a dog to help him cope with the symptoms.
"Its really hard to relate in society coming back from Iraq with PTSD and [Zeus and Marly] provide a really good comfort zone and that unconditional love," explains Calviera.
Calviera served two tours in Iraq with the US Army, according to his Facebook page. The war vet says he adopted Zeus and his second dog, Marly, after returning from Iraq and being diagnosed with PTSD.
No charges have been filed in this incident. In a phone interview Wednesday morning, Wilson claims he shot Zeus in "self defense" and to "protect [his] property." Wilson also confirms he has served as a police officer for the City of Myrtle Beach for five years.
Calviera says he and his family buried Zeus Tuesday evening.