Suspect arrested in shooting of Mason County man who was dragging dead raccoon

SHELTON, Wash. – A suspect was arrested Tuesday in the shooting of a man who was dragging a dead raccoon down the road, but which apparently was mistaken for a dog by the gunman.

The Mason County Sheriff’s Office said Tuesday night that an anonymous tip into its office led to the arrest of the suspect in the June 25 shooting near Belfair.  The sheriff’s office said the suspect and his truck were located in Fircrest.

The man intended to use the dead raccoon as bait in his crab pot, the sheriff’s office said, but a confrontation over it quickly got out of hand and the victim was run over and shot in the leg.

“In my eyes, it’s a form of vigilante kind of justice, and it’s inappropriate and it’s dangerous to the public,” said MCSO Detective Chris Liles. “It’s a situation where the suspect kind of thought he could handle the law himself.”

Surveillance video captured the truck, which is a Ford extended cab built between 1992 and 1997 with a dark colored canopy. There was a white dog in the cab.

Jeff Rhoades, a Det. Sgt. with the sheriff’s office, said the suspect might have tried to alter the truck’s appearance after the incident.

WARNING: This video contains strong language.

Jake Schley, a Mason County man who is friendly with the victim, took cell phone video of a conversation he had with the victim as he was dragging the raccoon down the road prior to the shooting.

Schley described the victim as a peaceful man, and started a fundraiser to help pay for his medical treatment.

“He is a free spirit and lives off the land,” Schley told Q13 News. “I am jealous of the life he lives, with not a care in the world and a smile on his face and love in his heart. He is truly a great person.”

Several people called 911 to report the man was dragging the animal down the road. Mason County sheriff’s deputies responded, and the man said he was broke and planned to use a dead raccoon he’d found in a creek as bait in his crab pot.

Deputies said that was legal, and offered to give the man a ride. He said he’d only accept the ride if he could bring the raccoon, but the deputies declined because the animal had been dead for some time and smelled bad.

A 911 call obtained by Q13 News describes the scene of the shooting.

“He’s aiming a gun … at the guy dragging the raccoon,” the caller reported. “Now the guy’s swinging the raccoon around.”

The victim has been released from the hospital.