Steamboat Springs Steamboat Springs Police Department Detective Dave Kleiber said Steamboat Springs resident Del Herman, 70, has confessed to shooting Duke, a 10-year-old Labrador retriever, on March 12 in the Indian Trails subdivision.
“He was just very frustrated about the number of stray dogs that are at his property, and this was the method he chose to deal with it,” said Kleiber, who added that Herman was “profoundly remorseful.”
Herman was served with an arrest warrant Tuesday morning, when he again denied shooting the dog, Kleiber said. Kleiber said after Herman was taken to Routt County Jail, Herman talked to a Steamboat patrol officer on unrelated business and said, “I want to come clean.”
Kleiber interviewed Herman, and Herman told him where to find the gun used in the shooting. Kleiber said a .22-caliber gun was recovered from underneath insulation in the attic of Herman’s shop building.
Herman had repeatedly denied knowing anything about the case.
Duke was owned by the Arnone family of Steamboat Springs. He was shot in the rear end while walking by himself in front of a Dumpster at the shop building at 1327 Indian Trails. Despite surgery, the dog died March 13. The Arnones live in a subdivision adjoining Indian Trails. The Herman family owns the Indian Trails subdivision as well as the shop building near the entrance to the subdivision where the dog was shot.
Early in the investigation, police thought the shot was fired from inside or next to the shop building. Police also knew Herman and his son were the only people at the building that Saturday morning. A Thursday interview with a witness who lives in the Indian Trails neighborhood led police to think Herman fired the shot.
The witness “heard a gunshot and then almost simultaneously, a dog yelping,” the arrest affidavit stated.
The witness reported seeing Del Herman next to his truck several feet from the dog. Herman then walked back into the building while the dog limped away, the witness said.
Kleiber said Herman was arrested on suspicion of cruelty to animals, a felony. He also was arrested on two misdemeanors related to discharging a weapon in public. Those charges are disorderly conduct and reckless endangerment.
Herman was advised in Routt County Court early Tuesday afternoon by Judge James Garrecht. Rusty Prindle, 14th Judicial District chief deputy district attorney, suggested a $2,000 personal recognizance bond, which Garrecht agreed to, and Herman was released. A phone message left for Herman on Tuesday was not immediately returned.
Leah Arnone said she was glad to hear about the confession.
“It doesn’t bring Duke back, but it takes us to the next step,” Arnone said.
Kleiber said the case is now in the hands of the Routt County District Attorney’s Office, but he did offer some advice to people who have issues with dogs.
“Call animal control,” Kleiber said. “Please don’t shoot them.”