TALLAPOOSA CO., AL (WSFA) - A family pet was shot and killed outside its home a few miles south of Dadeville, and the owners want to know why.
Dewayne Johnson stared at the fresh grave his son dug on the family property for their beloved member of the family named Bella. Bella was a 9-year-old weimaraner. Even more difficult for Johnson is having to explain what happened to Bella and why to his 4-year-old granddaughter.
"And she wants to know if her dog is going to Heaven, and why do people have to be so mean," Johnson said.
Tallapoosa County investigators say 32-year-old Anthony Lee Thornton shot and killed Bella on Deerpath Drive early Thursday morning.
We're told Thornton lived in a small home off and on and allegedly shot Bella from his front yard as she was running alongside the family car.
"She wouldn't hurt a flea," Johnson said.
Thornton faces an animal cruelty charge, reckless endangerment and firing across a public road.
Tallapoosa County Sheriff Jimmy Abbett declined to say whether Anthony Lee Thornton confessed to the crime. We do know, however, he posted his $35,000 bail Friday morning.
No one answered the door at the home on Deerpath Drive. Thornton reportedly told the court he intends to hire his own attorney. No word on who that might be.
Dewayne Johnson says his son had no choice but to put Bella down because she had no chance of surviving the initial gunshot wound.
If convicted on the charges, Anthony Lee Thornton could get a minimum of one year in prison on the animal cruelty charge and up to 12 months in jail on the remaining charges.