Survivor of war loses dog to random violence
Beloved pet's killing reopens old wounds for former Navy SEAL
By DANE SCHILLER
Copyright 2009 Houston Chronicle
April 9, 2009, 3:15PM
David Hopper For the Chronicle
Marcus Luttrell, shown at a book signing, said the attack on his dog pushed him into a place he didn’t want to be in.
All it took was the gunshot fired outside his Walker County home to trigger training ingrained in former Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell, the lone survivor of a dramatic battle in Afghanistan in 2005.
He did a sweep through the house. Checked on his mother. And bolted out the door, where he found dead his beloved Labrador retriever, Dasy, a dog given to him to help him recover from his own wounds and the loss of his fellow Navy comrades.
“I could tell she tried to get away because there was a blood trail,” Luttrell recalled in a phone interview Wednesday. “When I saw she was dead, the only thing that popped into my head was, ‘I’ve got to take these guys out.’ ”
Shrouded in darkness, Luttrell, who’d just been released from the hospital after another round of surgery, crawled under a fence, skirted a ditch and sneaked up on four strangers in a sedan who apparently killed the dog on a whim. Luttrell said they were oblivious as he raised a 9 mm pistol from about 25 yards away and had one of them dead to rights.
But as the car pulled away, he didn’t fire.
Instead, he scrambled back to his pickup and launched what became a wild 40-mile chase that reached speeds of over 100 mph and crossed three counties.
“I did everything right; I didn’t do anything wrong,” he told the Houston Chronicle of the April 1 incident. “Make sure everyone knows they cold-bloodily murdered.”
Luttrell stayed on the line with a 911 emergency operator as he tried to catch the car, which was just a bit too fast for his four-door truck to overtake.
“I told them, ‘You need to get somebody out here because if I catch them I’m going to kill them,’ ” Luttrell recalled telling the operator.
Wounds still deep
The nighttime killing of a such a special dog played right into Luttrell’s deep wounds.
The 4-year-old yellow Lab was given to him upon his return from the war to help him heal. He named it Dasy as an acronym for his SEAL team members lost in a mighty fight in which they were isolated and far outnumbered by Taliban fighters.
He wrote a book, The Lone Survivor, about the experience.
Luttrell said he still wrestles with what he went through. He doesn’t sleep at night, usually keeping his guard up until sunrise, just in case.
“I don’t talk about it much. I just don’t sleep at night,” he said. “I am in and out of the house all night, going, moving around.”
Luttrell and the men he was chasing were finally stopped by Onalaska Police Department.
Luttrell said he confronted the men. “I was like, ‘Which one of you guys killed my dog?’ ” he said. “They started talking smack.”
The police sent Luttrell home, and the Texas Rangers have been working with the Walker County Sheriff’s Department.
So far, two men have been charged with felonies that could land them in state jail for at least six months.
Michael John Edmonds II, 21, and Alfonzo Hernandez, 24, both of New Waverly, are charged with cruelty to nonlivestock animals. The driver of the vehicle was arrested on suspicion of not having a license.
Other dog killings linked
There are at least five area dog killings in recent months that could be linked to the case, said Texas Ranger Steven Jeter.
“It could have been worse for both parties involved,” he said. “I wouldn’t advocate to the general public to do what he has done — to follow them at that rate of speed.”
“Marcus is trained to do certain things; he fell back on his training,” Jeter said.
Luttrell said he’s left town for now and wants to stay as far away as he can. Talking from a place he described as “the middle of nowhere,” Luttrell said he knows the attack on Dasy pushed him to a place where he doesn’t want to be.
“I was trying to talk myself out of being who I am,” he said. “Talking to myself about not doing the one thing I am good at.”