Paauilo man, 84, accused of shooting dog

  • John Farrell is led from Hilo District Court Monday by a state sheriff's deputy. (John Burnett/Tribune-Herald)

An 84-year-old Paauilo man is accused of the nonfatal shooting of a dog at a Hawaiian Beaches subdivision home and threatening a neighbor with a loaded rifle after the neighbor allegedly confronted him about the incident.

John P. Farrell is charged with second-degree cruelty to an animal, first-degree terroristic threatening, second-degree reckless endangering, two counts of carrying a loaded firearm on a public roadway, three counts of illegally carrying a firearm, and three counts of illegally carrying ammunition.

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The two most serious charges, carrying a loaded firearm on a public roadway, are Class C felonies punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment upon conviction. The animal cruelty charge is a misdemeanor with a potential sentence of up to a year in jail.

At about 5:15 p.m. on Jan. 29, a 51-year-old man heard a gunshot come from a neighbor’s home on Opelu Street, followed by the sound of a dog whimpering, according to court documents filed by police.

The man told police he saw Farrell and asked him if he had shot the dog. The man said Farrell told him to “go home or I will shoot you” and “these people owe me $20,000” — while pointing a rifle at him. Two people witnessed Farrell pointing the rifle at the man, documents state.

Police reportedly served a search warrant on Farrell’s Chevrolet pickup truck and recovered a .22 caliber Ruger rifle, a Norinco AK-47 semi-automatic rifle, and a loaded .357 Magnum revolver, plus ammunition.

The dog, a gray pit bull, ran off after being shot, but was found at the home the following day with a limp and a small surface wound on its left shoulder, according to documents. The dog was taken to the Hawaii Island Humane Society in Keaau for treatment of its injury.

At Farrell’s initial court appearance Monday, Deputy Public Defender Zachary Wingert asked Hilo District Judge Harry Freitas to free Farrell on court-supervised release without cash bail or to reduce his $116,000 bail.

“Mr. Farrell is 84 years old. He’s lived on the Big Island for over 20 years,” Wingert argued. “… He’s basically what people would call ‘fixed income.’ He receives Social Security benefits and does not have the ability to post bail in the amount currently set. He also has no criminal history in the state of Hawaii … according to the bail study, no criminal history in any state, at all.”

Deputy Prosecutor Andrew Son argued that Farrell’s bail should be maintained at its original amount because of “a concern for public safety” because police found “a rifle, a loaded .357 pistol and a high-powered, semi-automatic AK-47” in Farrell’s possession.

“The facts are a little bit disturbing due to the premise that the defendant shot a dog under the premise that the previous owners or the owners of that dog owed him money, and when contacted by a few other individuals, he pointed his rifle at a victim, which was witnessed by two other witnesses,” Son told the judge.

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Freitas said he didn’t think Farrell was a flight risk. The judge reduced Farrell’s bail to $48,000 and ordered him to return to court at 2 p.m. Wednesday for a preliminary hearing.

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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