A mother and son are charged with involuntary manslaughter after the family’s dogs killed a man last week while running loose on the streets of Tucumcari.
Mary Montoya, 50, and Kristopher Morris, 27, are each charged with owning a dangerous dog as well in the Feb. 1 death of 64-year-old Stanley Hartt.
Of the six dogs involved, one was shot by a deputy at the scene and the others were eventually caught and taken to Animal Control.
Quay County deputies responded to the dog attack around 8 p.m. and found Hartt fatally injured along 11th Street near Gamble, according to an arrest warrant affidavit filed in Magistrate Court. The deputies began to look for the dogs and found a 50-pound dog named Zina with “blood on its snout.”
One deputy was given permission to shoot the dog and he did so before they found another dog that was involved. An officer tried to shoot the dog with his handgun but missed and the animal ran down an alley in the 400 block of High Street.
Authorities followed the dog, which had blood on its face, and saw it run inside the home of Montoya, according to the affidavit.
New Mexico State Police took over the investigation at that point.
State Police said Montoya told investigators that multiple dogs that lived with them — with names like Lady, Oreo and Spike. She said the dogs “belonged to her son, but she takes care of them because he does not.”
Montoya told police Zina, the dog who was shot, often jumped over the backyard fence and had bitten at least two people previously, according to the affidavit. She said all of the dogs would regularly leave the house and “return hours later.”
Police said Morris told them the dogs have a history of repeated escapes and attacking locals in Tucumcari but “claimed the dogs were not aggressive.” The backyard fence was in “severe disrepair,” according to police, and Morris pointed out where in the broken fence the dogs would escape.
Police said the mother and son were charged because both were aware the dogs were dangerous, allowed them to roam freely and took no steps to prevent the animals’ escape, according to the affidavit.