ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Three men have been accused of stabbing a young moose to death at a park in Alaska’s largest city, and police said witnesses reported seeing the men punching the animal and walking away.
The men were arraigned Wednesday in the death of the yearling moose near a bike trail in Anchorage’s Russian Jack Springs Park. All three were arrested on charges of animal cruelty, wanton waste of big game and tampering with evidence.
Three witnesses called police shortly before 7:30 p.m. Tuesday to report the moose under attack. Assistant District Attorney Daniel Shorey in charging documents made no mention of a possible motive.
Witness Don Brooks told officers he saw three men in a swampy area “punching” a moose. He yelled at them to stop, and saw them walk toward a park chalet, he said. Two others gave similar accounts to police.
Police found the dead moose in blood-soaked grass with a large vertical cut on its left side.
“There were multiple deep cuts that appeared to be slashing cuts on the left ribcage as well as apparent puncture wounds to the neck,” Shorey wrote.
Police found the three suspects near the park chalet and saw blood on one man’s jacket, Shorey wrote. None of the men were carrying knives.
Police using a dog tracked the men’s route from the chalet toward the area where they had been seen by witnesses. The police dog alerted officers to a large concrete pipe and police found three knives inside: a hunting knife in a brown leather sheath, a serrated “dagger style” knife in a black leather sheath and a multi-tool in a leather sheath, Shorey said.
The hunting knife had blood on it.
The suspects, Johnathan Candelario, 25, James Galloway, 28, and Nick Johnston, 33, were handed charges Wednesday in an Anchorage courtroom. The men covered their faces with legal documents to avoid being photographed and were told their rights and that they would be represented by the Alaska Public Defender’s office.
Bail for Candelario and Johnston was set at $10,000 with an additional $2,500 cash performance bond and a requirement for a third-party custodian. Bail for Galloway, who has no criminal convictions in Alaska, was set at $5,000.
Candelario and Johnston told District Judge Alex Swiderski they did not have jobs, assets or phones. Galloway said he had earned less than $600 in the last six months and also had no phone. Swiderski appointed the public defender’s office to represent them.
A local charity recovered the remains of the moose to salvage the meat, police spokeswoman Anita Shell said.
Moose are a common sight in Anchorage, and on rare occasions have charged at humans. The massive animals, however, generally coexist peacefully with humans and their pets.
Shell said she could not recall a moose attacked in the same way in her 25 years with the department.
“Certainly, people have defended themselves against moose if they’re being trampled,” Shell said. “But I’ve never seen anything like this.”