On Tuesday, Missoula Police Department officers responded to apartments on East Broadway for a report of a male being loud inside one of the residences. That male was eventually identified as 36-year-old Shane Espinoza. Police Public Information Officer Lydia Arnold explains.

“Officers had responded to a noise complaint after callers had contacted 911 dispatch regarding Espinoza yelling loudly and causing all sorts of noise through the night in the apartment complex,” Arnold said. “When officers first responded, Espinoza had quieted down. When officers made contact, they did not observe indicators of intoxication or drug use. Espinoza was no longer making the noise and the reporting party did not was to be a victim of disorderly conduct. Officers left, but identified the male as Shane Espinoza.”

When an officer responded again, he knocked on Espinoza’s door and called out his name.

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“Espinoza answered the door with a knife clenched in his hand,” Arnold said. “Officers gave commands for Espinoza to drop the knife. Espinoza complied with officers. For the safety of Espinoza and officers, Espinoza was detained in handcuffs. When officers were making contact with Espinoza, officers observed blood spatter, blood on a cat, and a small cat laying motionless on the floor.”

While officers spoke with Espinoza about the cat being killed, one of Espinoza’s neighbors came outside of his apartment, visibly upset, and yelled “is that my cat?”

“The victim and owner of the cat reported to police officers that he had left his residence for a short amount of time to briefly move his car so he wouldn’t get a ticket,” Arnold said. “The victim had shut his apartment door so the cat wouldn’t get out, but the door was not locked. When the victim returned a few minutes later. The cat was not in the apartment. The victim started asking and texting neighbors if they had seen the cat. The owner was looking for the cat when they hear officers speaking about a dead cat. The owner was able to describe the cat and confirm ownership of the cat.”

WARNING: THE NEXT SENTENCE IS GRAPHIC IN NATURE. PLEASE BE ADVISED.

Court documents indicate the cat’s head had been crushed and its skull was caved in on one side. There was a microwave oven on the floor next to the cat. Officers observed blood splatter on the microwave and the side of the microwave was dented.

“Officers consulted with a veterinary clinic and it was determined the cat was killed by blunt force,” Arnold said. “Officers continued their preliminary investigation, which included taking statements, reviewing video, and documenting observations on scene. The Missoula Police Department expresses our deepest sympathies to the victim and cat owner who lost their pet in this manner.”

Espinoza is currently being charged with aggravated animal cruelty and disorderly conduct.

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