LEE COUNTY, Fla.- Lee County Sheriff's deputies arrested 36-year-old Juan Gabriel Rangel Monday after he allegedly threw two kittens from a moving vehicle. Rangel faces an animal cruelty charge, though he denies the accusations.
Deputies met with the complainant around 10:00 a.m., who had one of the kittens in his possession, that had allegedly been tossed from the vehicle. He said the first kitten was thrown out the passenger side window, hit the road and started tumbling. The witness followed the car and saw another kitten thrown from driver's side of the same vehicle and into the median, before making a left turn. At this time, the witness stopped, picked up the kitten and called 911. He described the other kitten as white and gray, and similar to the one he had in his possession.
An Animal Control officer located a deceased, white kitten in the roadway near SR 82 and Sunshine Blvd., that had been dead for less than one hour.
The witness described the vehicle as a black KIA Forte with Florida tag AXQJ15, and said it was last traveling seen on Daniels Pkwy. near Palomino Lane. Deputies located the vehicle near Daniels Pkwy. and Six Mile Cypress Pkwy. and conducted a traffic stop.
Rangel was identified and questioned as to whether he had throw kittens out the window. He said, "You must be kidding. I wouldn't do that."
Deputies asked if he liked cats, to which he responded that he did not. Deputies then asked Rangel about the book "All About Cats" that was sitting on the rear seat of the vehicle. He said it was his daughter's and told the deputies that she had a cat. They asked if the cat had kittens recently, to which Rangel said no.
Deputies observed cat tracks all over the vehicle and made a comment about them. Rangel overheard this and said, "Yeah, we have cats all over the place out there, and they crawl over everything."
According to his arrest report, Rangel took one of the deputies aside, saying he knew what they were talking about and asked if he could explain. Rangel was then read his rights and asked what it was he wanted to tell the deputy. Rangel said he no longer had anything to say, and asked to call a lawyer.
Detectives later said that both Rangel and his vehicle smelled of cats. Rangel told them he was on his way to work, that he would never hurt a cat, and wanted to clear his name.
Based on the investigation in its entirety, Rangel was arrested and charged with the crime.
The surviving kitten is 4 weeks old and sustained no external injuries, but Lee County Domestic Animal Services still needs to take X-rays.