MASON CITY – Mason City police are investigating complaints from neighbors in northwest Mason City about finding dead birds in their yards.
NorthIowaToday.com was alerted to the situation by a concerned neighbor, which led to looking into the situation to produce this report.
A neighbor told NorthIowaToday.com that there were several officers at 316 5th Street NW on Thursday, May 5th. The officers were “carrying garbage sacks which supposedly had dead cats & squirrels in them. They hauled out quite a few guns as well. The law was there for hours.”
Police were first called to the area the day before, on May 4th, after neighbors called to complain about “a neighbor shooting a BB gun from the residence.” Two neighbors told police that they were finding dead birds on their property, both of which are apparently adjacent or near to 316 5th Street NW. Neighbors told police this was “an on going issue.”
Neighbors pointed out to police objects on the property or yard at 316 5th Street NW with what appeared to be bullet or BB holes in them, such as a litter box, a clothes dryer, and “several squirrel feeders” with “BB or pellet holes in the lumber the feeders were made out of.”
See a gallery of photos and scanned images of some of the items police found in their investigation.
All the objects with BB holes faced the north side of the house at 316 5th Street NW. The north side of the house has several windows facing north, where the back yard is. In this yard is where the dryer, feeder and other items were found.
While on the scene, a neighbor opened the clothes dryer and found “at least one dead bird and several dead squirrels.”
The house had been a duplex and the upstairs was its own apartment, officers were told by a building inspector.
Police then entered the unlocked house, went upstairs and encountered a locked door. On the door was a no hunting sign that said “Francis LaPointe.” No one answered the door. Officers also noticed “a box for a high powered pellet gun sitting in a common area” as well as pellets.
Police officers then left the property and contacted the DNR who said they would look into the matter the next day, on May 5th.
Police continued to return to 316 5th Street NW that evening to try and talk to the inhabitants. They also tried to contact the property owner, Karen Hutzell.
Finally, at 9:44 p.m. on May 4th police came back to the house and Francis LaPointe was home as well as a woman named “Karen.” Police did not get to speak with LaPointe, and Karen was “being difficult” according to an unsealed search warrant obtained by NorthIowaToday.com.
The next day, on May 5th, police were able to ascertain that the house was no longer a duplex, but instead was a single family residence with one address.
Water and garbage services at the house were in the name of Francis LaPointe.
Police then obtained a search warrant for the property allowing them to look for weapons and ammunition. They found: bullet casings, spent rounds, pellets, a pellet gun, a Cross Men Quest in a box, a Ruger .22 handgun, a Remington 1100, targets and a squirrel feeder. The Iowa DNR seized 12 fox squirrels, 4 cotton tail rabbits, 1 crow and 1 pheasant. Police also spotted what appeared to be marijuana.
A second search warrant was then obtained allowing the authorities to search for illegal drugs or paraphernalia. They found: marijuana, a marijuana cigarette, a scale, bags and a pipe.
So far the Mason City Police Department is not releasing any more information, and charges may or may not be pending, based on their investigation. The only information they released was in a media report, which stated “an officer responded after a complaint of a subject shooting animals inside the city limits. A search warrant was conducted with the assistance of the DNR and a subject was cited for three conservation offenses.”
A message was left at the Iowa DNR Friday afternoon for clarification on who was cited, but the message was not immediately returned.
NorthIowaToday.com will continue to follow this story.
Anyone with information on this situation should call the Mason City Police Department at 641-421-3636.