Ed. note: The content of this article pertains to cruelty of animals. Reader discretion is advised.
ST. GEORGE — A Diamond Valley man was arrested Saturday after witnesses reported he had stolen multiple firearms and other property and killed several of their pets, including puppies and a hamster.
At approximately 7:15 p.m. Saturday, authorities responded to a fight at a Diamond Valley residence where witnesses reported that 18-year-old Andrew Michael Berard had stolen multiple firearms and had killed several pets, according to a probable cause statement filed by the Washington County Sheriff’s Office in support of the arrest.
Deputies located Berard walking on a street and spoke with him about the incident. Berard allegedly admitted he had taken the firearms without permission, the deputy wrote in his sworn statement, and told officers “he did not understand why he did it, knowing it was wrong.”
Berard was detained by deputies and transported back to the house where the incident occurred to continue the investigation.
Three witnesses living in the home told authorities Berard had stolen multiple items from them – including three handguns, a .22 long rifle, two BB guns, $300, a credit card and alcohol – and had hidden the items in his room, according to the statement.
Witnesses told authorities they had located and recovered all of the firearms, alcohol and credit card in Berard’s room, the deputy stated. However, they were unable to locate the missing money.
“The (alleged) victims stated Andrew had killed their pet hamster and attempted to hide the body under the stairs,” the deputy stated. “The (alleged) victims said Andrew had also killed some of their puppies a week ago.”
The witness reportedly found the dead hamster and buried it, the report stated. When they confronted Berard about the problems at the house, a verbal argument ensued.
“The (alleged) victims showed us the location of where the hamster was buried,” the deputy wrote in his statement. “The animal was exhumed and found to be cut in half and dismembered.”
Sheriff’s deputies advised Berard of his Miranda rights and questioned him about the allegations.
“Andrew admitted he killed the hamster because he thought it was a mouse,” the deputy stated. “The (alleged) victim stated Andrew was aware of the hamster in its cage which would (have) had to been physically removed from it, as it was found dismembered in another room in the basement and then hidden.”
According to the deputy’s statement, Berard admitted to taking the credit card in a box of papers from one of the witnesses and said “he was just snooping and should not have taken it.”
He also admitted to taking the alcohol and drinking some earlier in the day, according to the deputy’s statement. However, Berard denied taking any money or killing the dogs.
“It was later found out that Andrew has a history of suicidal behaviors and cruelty to animals,” the deputy stated.
Berard was arrested and booked into the Washington County Purgatory Correctional Facility on suspicion of several criminal charges.
The Washington County Attorney then filed an information in 5th District Court accusing Berard of two counts of second-degree felony theft; third-degree felony unlawful acquisition of a finance card without consent; a class A misdemeanor for aggravated cruelty to animals; and two class B misdemeanor counts of theft and unlawful minor possession of alcohol.
Berard appeared before 5th District Judge Eric Ludlow Monday for his initial court appearance. Ludlow ordered $20,000 bail for Berard’s release pending trial.
Berard was found indigent by the court and was appointed attorney Ariel Taylor to represent him. He is scheduled to make his next appearance in court Monday afternoon.
Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.
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