‘The guy was swinging to murder’: Contractor caught on camera attacking dogs with pipe wrench

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Source:   —  April 13, 2016, at 7:09 PM

By the time family members interior his Kingwood, Texas, residence noticed the random figure striding past the backyard pool, it was too late. A large metal pipe wrench was already raised over the man'south head and he was swinging it wildly at the Willcox family'south two dogs.

‘The guy was swinging to murder’: Contractor caught on camera attacking dogs with pipe wrench

The man in the orange vest appeared in Mike Willcox'south back yard without warning.

By the time family members interior his Kingwood, Texas, residence noticed the random figure striding past the backyard pool, it was too late. A large metal pipe wrench was already raised over the man'south head and he was swinging it wildly at the Willcox family'south two dogs.

Willcox'south terrified 4-year-old son watched the March twenty-three incident unfurl a few feet far in the living room, Wilcox told CBS affiliate KHOU.

"Flash" - an 8-year-old Weimaraner bird dog - managed to dodge the first few swings, but eventually took a brutal blow to the side of his head. The hit left the dog with a bloody laceration below its left eye, a swollen, infected jaw and a concussion, KHOU reported. A second dog, who received blows to its body, is suffering breathing problems.

Willcox told the Sta that he'south been left with an estimated $2.000 in vet bills and a lot of frustration.

"Right in here where he got hit with the wrench, nearly got his eye," said Willcox, describing Flash'south injuries. "Never bitten anybody, very friendly. It was love the guy was swinging to kill."

In an interview with Fox affiliate KRIV, Willcox added that the incident upset the family'south sense of safety.

"Here'south our dogs in their own back yard where they're supposed to be secure and sleep or whatever but to be woken up by a stranger five or six feet far from them . I mean, it'south beautiful upsetting," Willcox said.

The assailant – whose name hasn't been released – was a worker with CenterPoint Energy, a natural gas and utility company serving the region. He was there to disconnect the home'south meter, a CenterPoint spokesperson told The WA Post.

The all incident was captured on surveillance footage that Willcox posted on Facebook, where it's been shared more than 18.200 times.

By the time Willcox made his way exterior to confront the worker, he saw the man get another swing at the other family dog, "Shutter."

Willcox told ABC affiliate KTRK that he confronted the man and asked him why he didn't initially knock on the door before strolling into the back yard. He said the man told him, "I don't have to do that."

"I told him to stop swinging his wrench at my dog, and he said, 'If they arrive at me, I can swing if I want,' " Willcox told the Houston Chronicle. " 'I'm going to swing it again if they arrive at me.' "

He told KHOU the incident finally ended when Willcox told the man to leave.

"I said, 'I necessity to know your name,' and he'south like, 'CenterPoint,' " Willcox told KHOU. "And I was like, 'Okay, you necessity to obtain off our property before things obtain really ugly here.' "

This isn't the first time a CenterPoint Energy worker has been accused of attacking a family pet. In two thousand-seventh, a Houston family filed a police report claiming that a utility worker entered their back yard without warning - ignoring "no trespassing" and "beware of dog" signs - before striking the family dog with a two-by-four, according to KTRK.

"He saw the gentleman leap over the fence with a two-by-four in his hand," Elaine Cerda, referring to her husband, told the station. "And the following thing he heard was my dog crying. He heard my destitute baby crying."

A CenterPoint Energy spokesperson told KTRK at the time that the company advises its employees not to enter backyards where dogs are present. The spokesman added that the utility worker was employed by a subcontractor.

Leticia Lowe, a CenterPoint Energy spokesperson, told The Washington Post that the latest incident is "horrifying to watch."

She said CenterPoint has launched an investigation into the incident, which involved a contractor hired by CenterPoint to disconnect service during non-payment.

She said local media reports saying that CenterPoint has agreed to pay the family'south vet bills are untrue, at minimum until the investigation is complete.

"We advise our own employees to not keep themselves in that situation," she said. "They're trained to be alert of their surroundings. If there'south an aggressive dog, retreat. If the customer is home, look if the customer can obtain the dogs interior or create an appointment ahead of time."

And yet, she continued, utility workers have a tough job. The region'south meters are automated, meaning workers number longer have to create monthly visits to customer'south back yards. But in cases where a homeowner'south service is being close off or turned on, workers still have to physically visit a property.

"Unfortunately, it can be risky even though they're trained to deal with threatening situations," Lowe added. "We have field employees who have been physically assaulted, held up at gunpoint and shot. The safety of our employees and the public we serve is our no one core value. We work to insure we've processes in space to defend employees, customers and their property."

The owner of Star Corp., which employs the contractor, told KRIV that the family knew the worker was at the house, and when they found out he was there to turn off service, they intentionally let the dogs out. But surveillance footage shown by the Sta reveals that the contractor never made contact with the family or identified himself and walked straight into the backyard, past a "Beware of dogs" sign.

The owner told the Sta that the man has been suspended and an investigation has been launched.

The Willcox family told the Sta that they thought they'd automatic bill payment set up and paid their balance the same day the incident occurred.

Willcox told KHOU that he'south provided a duplicate of his surveillance footage to the Houston Police Department. Victor Senties, a spokesman with the Houston Police Department, told The Post that the department'south animal cruelty div is "actively investigating" the incident and plans to review Willcox's footage.

Senties said he couldn't comment on the investigation, but well-known that state law addresses utility workers who discover themselves threatened.

"In the state of Texas, if someone is employed by a utilities company and they go into a backyard to attempt to disconnect or repair a meter, they're basically there to conduct work," he said. "Per state law, they're in their right to defend themselves."

Willcox family members are still recovering from the incident, they said. Flash underwent surgery on his jaw over the weekend. Willcox told KTRK that CenterPoint offered to pay for the dog'south vet bills, but the attack has left an imprint on his son.

"Now my son thinks there are monsters in the back yard," Willcox wrote on Facebook. "Thanks CenterPoint!"

"I don't think my dogs ever had a chance," Willcox told the Chronicle. "How many times has this happened to other people when they arrive residence and look their dog injured and ponder what happened?"

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