HAMILTON, Mont. (AP) — Gunfire that struck a Montana bartender as he carried his injured dog outside his house after a shift likely would have killed him if it didn’t hit the pit bull first, the man’s brother said this week.
The dog died after a bar customer opened fire early Saturday because he was angry that his neighbor and bartender Joe Lewis made his red beer with Clamato instead of tomato juice, according to court records.
Monte Hanson, 59, who is charged with attempted deliberate homicide and animal cruelty, said drinking Clamato, which is tomato juice flavored with clam broth, is against his Jewish religion, according to documents.
Lewis’ brother, Mike Lewis, said Tuesday that a gunshot hit the dog, Jackson, in the head. He said that if his brother had not been carrying the pit bull, who was in a cast after having a toe removed, the shot could have hit Joe Lewis in the head.
“Joe’s alive today, because he was carrying Jackson to go to the bathroom, and when he was shot at, Jackson blocked the bullet that would have hit Joe,” Mike Lewis said.
A second shot hit Joe Lewis in the ribs and went out his back, missing any major organs.
“He’s doing all right now,” Mike Lewis said of his brother. “He’s just in a lot of pain is all. He’s staying strong. He’s out of the hospital.”
But “he’s pretty broken up about his dog,” he added.
Family and friends are trying to raise money to get Joe Lewis another red nose pit bull. They also hope to raise enough to cover about three months’ worth of living expenses until he can return to work.
Hanson is jailed, with bail set at $250,000. Public defender Ron Piper did not immediately return a phone call from The Associated Press on Wednesday morning seeking comment on behalf of his client.