A New Jersey man who shot a beloved family pet and therapy dog is now in custody, police said.
William Stroemel, 64, of Maple Shade, New Jersey, was arrested and charged with unlawful possession of a weapon, possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, animal cruelty, certain persons not to have firearms and hindering apprehension/concealing evidence.
Bob Cook, also of Maple Shade, told NBC10 his dog Toby, a Pomeranian poodle mix, had gotten out of his home on the 800 block of Greenwood Avenue on Sept. 17 around 5:30 p.m. As he searched for him, Cook heard Toby howling in pain.
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“I saw him laying in the street,” Cook said. “I picked him up with my bum leg and all and I ran back to the house. I said we had to get him to the vet.”
The next day, Toby was taken to a veterinarian who found a bullet lodged in his head. Unable to be saved, Toby was humanely euthanized.
“We both just started crying,” Cook’s granddaughter Amber Cook told NBC10.
Toby was a beloved part of Bob Cook’s family as well as his therapy dog for 10 years.
“He’s a veteran who has some PTSD and depression issues and Toby gave him a reason to get up and they’d go for walks,” Amber Cook said.
Stroemel was initially charged with weapons offenses after police discovered a .22 caliber pistol while executing a search warrant at his home on Sept. 23. More charges were filed Wednesday after a necropsy on Toby was performed. Investigators removed a pellet from the dog's head and determined it came from an air rifle in Stroemel's possession at the time of the shooting, officials said.
Stroemel, who lives around the corner from the Cook family, allegedly shot Toby with the air rifle, gave the gun to an acquaintance and asked him to hold it for him. Investigators don't believe Toby was on Stroemel's property at the time of the shooting.
Neighbors told NBC10 the dog was never threatening.
"He never hurt anybody," Patrice Weil said. "He was six pounds and for this scumbag, I'm glad he's in jail and I hope he rots there."
Stroemel is a heavy equipment operator who also goes by the name of "Wild Willie." Neighbors said his home has been under construction for years.
"He's a loner," Weil said. "But he's very scary."
Stroemel is currently in the Burlington County Jail awaiting a detention hearing.