ALAMEDA (CBS 5) — A 12-year-old Oakland boy and a 9-year-old Hayward boy are accused of using a shovel to bludgeon to death eleven chickens inside a chicken coop operated by an Alameda community garden, authorities told CBS 5.
Police arrested the two boys on charges of animal cruelty after the gruesome attack was discovered over the weekend by other children at the Alameda Point Collaborative. Police said the kids found eleven birds dead, while six were still alive and one was missing.
Witness interviews led to the first boy’s arrest on Tuesday, police indicated.
“(The suspect) was blaming other juveniles, but the juvenile was witnessed hurting the chickens with sticks and shovels,” said Alameda police Sgt. Wayland Gee.
Police arrested the second boy, said to be a friend of the first boy arrested, on Wednesday.
Both boys were released to their parents and ordered to appear later in juvenile court. Their names were not released and it was not clear if either of the boys had a history of juvenile delinquency.
Gee said it was uncommon for children this young to become involved with crimes involving killing animals.
“It is disturbing and does raise a bit of concern when we do see it,” he said.
The collaborative garden, which teaches children about urban farming and nutrition, serves hundreds of formerly homeless families at the site of what was once the Alameda Naval Air Station.
Children involved in the Growing Youth Project expressed grief and anger as a result of the chicken slaughter.
“I wanted to cry and was holding back tears because I used to go out every morning and feed the chickens,” reacted 12-year-old Cary Proctor.
Collaborative workers said ten children care for the chickens and sell their eggs as a fundraiser.
“The chickens were just reaching the point where they’d start laying eggs and the kids have been using the money for a lot of their social activities – like doing a camping trip and a Thanksgiving meal for the community,” explained Doug Biggs, the group’s executive director.
While the financial loss of the dead chickens was about $500, Biggs said it could mean that the summer camping trip involving about 25 children would be canceled.
A local school has donated ten chicks to be raised to help replace the birds that were killed. In addition, the Alameda Police Officers’ Association was also collecting donations to help pay for older chickens that could lay eggs now.
As for the boys accused in the chicken deaths, Biggs said it was clear that the boys had “real emotional issues.”
“I’d like to see those issues addressed. I’m not for retribution. I’m for learning,” he said.
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