Seattle dog shot, killed while playing outside: 'He took my baby'

A woman is reeling after her beloved pet was shot and killed right outside her home in what detectives believe may have been a case of mistaken identity of the dog. 

Charging documents filed with the King County Prosecuting Attorney's Office paint this picture: 

Michelle Michaels was inside her Lake City home around 1:30 p.m. on April 4 when she heard a gunshot outside. She looked out the window and saw a man standing in the middle of the road with a handgun in his hands.

Six feet away from the man was her dog, Stevie, bleeding in the street. 

She ran outside, screaming. The man holding the gun told her that Stevie "came at him." The suspect turned and left, leaving Michaels in the street to continue to call for help. 

She carried a bloodied Stevie back into her home, but the pup was pronounced dead when officers arrived. 

"I held her until her heart stopped beating," Michaels said.

Photo of Stevie, from Michelle Michaels

As officers were speaking with the victim, the suspect, 21-year-old Magan Yussuf, exited his home a few doors down and was taken into custody without incident. He declined medical attention and did not have any injuries. 

Yussuf told officers that he had been bitten by the dog, but when officers checked his leg for injuries, there were no bite marks, skin breaks or other abrasions to indicate a dog bite, court documents say. Yussuf then said the dog pulled on his pant leg, but there were no tears or damage to the pants. 

After speaking with Yussuf and his mother, officers determined that perhaps Stevie was not the intended target, according to court documents. 

Yussuf's mother said that "this dog" had been terrorizing Yussuf for about 13 years, since he was walking home from school as a young boy. His mother also said she was attacked by "that dog" and that there had been incidents in the past.

However, Stevie is approximately four years old. Stevie and Michelle had only been living in the neighborhood for about two or three years.

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Photo of Stevie. [Courtesy of Michelle Michaels] 

Animal control told investigators that there was a home around the corner from where the shooting took place that had several dogs that were known to be aggressive and that they had been called to the home previously. That home was not Michaels' home. 

No complaints have been filed against Stevie or Michaels, according to court documents, though Michaels noted that Stevie was known to get out of the backyard from time to time, but never caused problems. 

Before the shooting, one neighbor said they did not hear any sounds of a disturbance, like yelling or barking, according to court documents. 

Another witness said the dog was just standing in the road when it was shot, and was not barking or acting aggressive. 

"One witness stated he saw the defendant fire one shot at the dog and the dog fall to the ground. Additionally, the witness stated he did not notice the dog attack or act aggressively towards the defendant during this interaction," court documents indicate.

"[I'm] so heartbroken. I just want her here with me so bad," Michaels told FOX 13.

The Port of Seattle wrote a story on Stevie's journey, and how she got to her ‘fur-ever’ home with Michaels: 

Stevie had been living on the streets in Qatar when she was brought into an animal shelter in Doha. Through a rescue, Stevie flew with a travel buddy volunteer and two other dogs from Qatar to the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. 

Michaels, a Seattle rescue volunteer, met Stevie and the other dogs and their future families at the airport to facilitate the adoptions. When Stevie’s adoption later fell through, Michaels ended up fostering her for a couple of weeks. It didn’t take long for Michaels to fall in love, and Stevie found a new permanent home with Michaels, the Port of Seattle wrote.

A GoFundMe has been set up for Michaels' for attorney's fees and cremation costs. She is also now trying to move out of the neighborhood. 

"This is the most violent thing I've ever witnessed and I don't want this to happen to anyone ever again," Michaels said.

Yussuf was released after posting bail.   

He is facing a first-degree animal cruelty charge. If convicted, Yussuf could face up to a year behind bars.

The sentence could've been longer, but a bill imposing tougher criminal penalties for animal cruelty convictions won't take effect until June 6. The new law elevates the sentencing range for first-degree animal cruelty from zero to 364 days behind bars, to 2-5 years, depending on the suspect's past and the seriousness of the crime.

Yussuf declined to comment to FOX 13. 

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