VIENNA, Va. -- A Vienna, Va., man was arrested for allegedly going too far to protect his squirrelly friend. Police said they caught him red-handed.
Thomas R. Shepler, 65, of Locust Street, was arrested for discharging a firearm in a public place and cruelty to animals after he shot and killed a hawk in his yard, police said.
Shepler, a self-proclaimed animal lover, said the story actually began last fall when he found an orphaned squirrel in a nearby parking lot. He and his wife named the squirrel Oedipus and devoted their time to nursing him back to health. They fed Oedipus and even let him sleep in their bedroom at night, Shepler said.
Last Saturday, a hawk few into his yard and became fixated with Oedipus, Shepler said. In a desperate effort to protect his furry pal, Shepler took matters into his own hands and threw a crowbar at the tree in hopes of scaring the hawk away. It didn't work.
He then went to get an antique shotgun from his house and fired at the hawk, killing him, Shepler said.
An officer with the Vienna Town Police Department happened to be driving through the neighborhood at the time and heard the shot. When the officer confronted Shepler, who still had the gun in his hand, he admitted to shooting the bird. The officer took Shepler into custody.
The charges Shepler faces are misdemeanors. He was released on his own recognizance.