5 people arrested in violent robbery of pop star Lady Gaga's French bulldogs
Among the five is the woman who returned the dogs, initially thought to be uninvolved in the robbery.
The woman who returned Lady Gaga’s stolen French bulldogs was among five people arrested in connection with the theft and shooting of the music superstar’s dog walker, Los Angeles police said on Thursday (Apr 29).
Detectives do not believe that the thieves initially knew the dogs belonged to the pop star, the Los Angeles Police Department said in a statement. The motive for the Feb 24 robbery, investigators believe, was the value of the French bulldogs – which can run into the thousands of dollars.
The dog walker, Ryan Fischer, is recovering from a gunshot wound and has called the violence “a very close call with death” in social media posts. He was walking Lady Gaga's three dogs – named Asia, Koji and Gustav – in Hollywood just off the famed Sunset Boulevard when he was attacked.
Video from the doorbell camera of a nearby home shows a white sedan pulling up and two men jumping out. They struggled with Fischer and one pulled a gun and fired a single shot before fleeing with two of the dogs, Koji and Gustav.
The video captured Fischer’s screams of, “Oh, my God! I’ve been shot!” and “Help me!” and “I’m bleeding out from my chest!”
Lady Gaga offered a US$500,000 (S$660,000) reward – “no questions asked” – to be reunited with the dogs. The singer had been in Rome at the time filming a movie.
The dogs were returned two days later to an LAPD station by a woman who originally appeared to be “uninvolved and unassociated” with the crime, police initially said. The woman, identified Thursday as 50-year-old Jennifer McBride, had reported that she’d found the dogs and responded to an email address associated with the reward, police said.
McBride turned out to be in a relationship with the father of one of the suspects, the LAPD said Thursday. It was not immediately clear if she had received the reward.
Police arrested James Jackson, 18; Jaylin White, 19; and Lafayette Whaley, 27, in connection with the violence. They are charged with attempted murder, conspiracy to commit robbery and second-degree robbery, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.
Jackson, who authorities say was the shooter, also faces charges of assault with a semiautomatic firearm and a felon carrying a concealed firearm in a vehicle. White faces one count of assault by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury.
White's father, 40-year-old Harold White, and McBride were arrested and accused of being accessories to the attack. The elder White also was charged with one count of possession of a firearm and McBride faces a charge of receiving stolen property.
Jackson, Whaley and the Whites are all documented gang members, according to the LAPD.
The five suspects were scheduled to be arraigned on Thursday, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office. It was not immediately clear if they had attorneys who could speak on their behalf.
All five were being held on US$1 million bail each, online jail records show.
Lady Gaga did not immediately address the arrests on her social media accounts on Thursday afternoon. Fischer and Lady Gaga's representatives did not respond to requests for comment.