WALKER COUNTY – Poor judgment, bad luck, and even abject stupidity may be inadequate terms to describe how a group of twenty-something men in Walker County became the first prey hunted on American soil by the sole survivor of the bloodiest battle in the history of the US Navy SEALs.
Marcus Luttrell, decorated war hero and author of the best-selling book “Lone Survivor,” was the only one of four Navy SEALs to live through a Taliban ambush in the mountains of Afghanistan in 2005. Critically wounded and psychologically scarred, Luttrell returned to the US and was given a puppy to aid in his recovery.
“This wasn’t any dog,” Luttrell said. “After Afghanistan, they gave me this dog for rehabilitation – it wasn’t just like a pet, it meant more to me than anything.”
Luttrell can no longer sleep at night. He was already awake around 1:30 a.m. on April 1 when he says he heard a gunshot near his front fence. The soldier grabbed a gun and a flashlight, went to his mom’s bedroom and made sure she was all right, and then told her not to move until he returned. Once outside, Luttrell said he heard talking and laughter and saw headlights, so he quietly moved toward them, then crawled underneath the fence and into a ditch where he continued in their direction. Despite all of the deaths he had seen and participated in, Luttrell saw something that shook him to his core.
“There was a car with four men standing out there, and my dog laying dead in the ditch,” Luttrell said. “They murdered her in cold blood.”
The dog was named DASY, which stood for Danny, Axe, Southern Boy, and Yankee. Luttrell, a.k.a. “Southern Boy,” named the dog after the four Navy SEALs who fought the fateful battle that only he survived. DASY was more than a pet to Luttrell. She represented his friends and his recovery. He described DASY as a gentle dog, who probably never saw the strangers as dangerous.
“She was a yellow lab, for God’s sakes,” Luttrell said. “I’m sure they just pulled up, got out of the car and all they had to do was clap their hands- she’d walk right up to you.”
One of the men shot DASY in the shoulder with a .357 magnum.
“That’s murder in my book,” he said. “They were just joy riding. They were out killing dogs.”
Luttrell said he took aim as the men jumped into their vehicle, but he did not shoot. Instead he got into his pickup and followed, chasing them through three to four counties at speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour as he remained on the phone with 911 dispatchers updating their location.
When Luttrell’s pursuit reached the town of Onalaska, police had set up a roadblock. Walker County Detective Judy James said the Onalaska Police Department was able to stop and identify the suspects.
The patrol officer placed the men on the ground by his vehicle while he searched theirs, Luttrell said. As he waited, Luttrell asked the men which one of them shot his dog, and he says they began threatening him. Still, the trained killer maintained his self-control.
Det. James said the suspects’ attitudes were not the same with investigators.
“The two suspects that were arrested have not admitted to doing this deed,” she said. “The courts will decide what happens to them.”
The driver, 24-year-old Alfonzo Hernandez, was taken into custody that night. Michael Edmonds II, 21, was released along with the pair in the backseat. Luttrell filed a complaint against Edmonds the next day, but says he was told the men in the backseat were considered witnesses. He was upset they were not also held accountable, since if a person were murdered, the pair would be considered accessories.
Hernandez and Edmonds are charged with state jail felony cruelty to an animal. Both are free on bond.
Walker County Sheriff Clint McRae said the investigation is being handled carefully and law enforcement’s role in the case is by no means concluded.
“The Walker County Sheriff’s Department, Onalaska Police Department and the Texas Rangers all played a role in the investigation,” McRae said. “We will work very diligently along with the Texas rangers and the Walker County District Attorney’s Office to see that these individuals are prosecuted to the fullest.”
“Marcus is having a hard time with it,” McRae said. “The dog was a good friend of Marcus’s.”
“He’s seen a lot, and has been through a lot of the years and I feel like the dog played a very big role in his life.”
The title of Hernandez’s My Space page (last login March 25) is “I feel like dying!!!” His mood is listed as “strong” and under “heroes,” Hernandez only lists himself.
Edmonds’ My Space page has been removed, but a cached version found through a search engine shows it was called, “$Lil Mike$ AKA One Girls Dream” and he referred to himself as “sharp dressed man.” His mood stated he felt “loved” and under “heroes” Edmonds listed “mom and dad.”
McRae said the problem of dog killing is one that comes and goes, but he believes is primarily caused by people having too much time on their hands. If convicted, Hernandez and Edmonds could have up to two years behind bars to think about what they allegedly did.