A Washington state family who survived a mass shooting last year says a neighbor shot and killed the dog they adopted to help with healing and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) resulting from the attack.
Joseph and Lona Johnson, who live near Bellingham, were in the audience of the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival in Las Vegas last October when a lone gunman opened fire, killing 58 people and injuring dozens more, the Bellingham Herald reports.
One of the injured was apparently a cousin of the Johnsons, Melinda Brockie, who was also at the festival.
Joseph Johnson said after hearing that dogs make good pets to help with the trauma of PTSD, the family picked out a labradoodle and named him “Jax.”
While the Johnson’s two children weren’t at the concert, they still suffered after seeing news coverage of the atrocity and finding out their parents were shot at. Jax could be a way of helping the entire family—which is exactly what Joseph Johnson said the comfort dog did.
“He was such a blessing. He gave us something to look forward to. I really believe Jax was a big part of our healing.”
But that all changed on Sunday, when the family says a gun-wielding neighbor shot and killed Jax on their own property.
The Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office reported that the neighbor, 49-year-old Odin Maxwell, fired at the dog after it had been chasing his chickens—though investigators reportedly found no evidence to back up the man’s claims.
Maxwell was subsequently cited for recklessly discharging a firearm.
The Johnson family said they had no prior run-ins with Maxwell, adding that their nephew even returned one of his chickens unharmed after finding it on their property just days before Jax was killed.
The couple is reportedly considering a lawsuit against Maxwell.
“We’re pretty upset and hurt right now,” Lona told the Bellingham Herald. “It triggered a lot of PTSD for our family. We’re still trying to deal with what happened in Las Vegas, and then this happened. Everybody who knows us knows how important Jax was to us.”
[Feature Photo: Facebook, Lona Johnson]