Three suspects were arrested in Daytona Beach, Florida, Tuesday for allegedly beating a disabled veteran who attempted to stop them from torturing a turtle.
Garry Blough, a disabled Gulf War Navy veteran, told local reporters he acted after his wife and toddler went to get the mail and told him they had spotted the three tormenting the turtle.
When Blough went outside his apartment complex to check, he said he saw the suspects lifting the turtle off the ground, then hurling it back to the pavement multiple times in an attempt to break its shell. He said he told his wife to call the police after begging the group to leave the turtle alone. They responded negatively.
When he then tried to get the helpless animal back into the water, the three suspects started punching him in the face and kicking him once he was knocked down. Blough said he suffered a swollen eye out of which he can barely see now and may have suffered a concussion, but his injuries paled in comparison to the turtle, which likely died.
“You don’t hit a woman, you don’t hit a child and you don’t hit an animal around me. I won’t stand for it. … There are eight other children in the neighborhood all watching this, and they’re all in tears,” Blough told reporters.
Once neighbors starting emerging from their homes after hearing the commotion outside, the three suspects stopped beating Blough and fled, but they were quickly apprehended by police on a nearby road.
Police identified the three suspects as Ryan Ponder, 23, Johnnie Beveritt, 18, and Alfred Chico, 16. They were charged with aggravated battery and cruelty to animals.
“How are they going to be as fathers if they’re doing this to animals at their age?” Blough asked.
Ponder and Beveritt are currently being held at the Volusia County Jail on $15,000 bond while Chico was sent to a juvenile detention facility.
There were 1,920 cases of animal abuse reported in the U.S. in 2016, according to statisticsbrain.com. Dogs were the victims of animal abuse in 60 percent of those incidents while cats were the victims in 18 percent.