10 birds were killed in the incident, which prompted a $5,000 reward from PETA to help catch the culprit
Police are pursuing an alleged case of animal cruelty after they say someone apparently lured seagulls to a Maryland parking lot with popcorn and then deliberately ran over them.
“I was shocked,” Laurel police Cpl. Laura Wilson told FOX 5 DC. “I heard the call come out through our dispatchers, and you have that moment and you’re like, is this really a call? Am I going to this right now?”
“And I get there, and the sight of it is worse than it came out on the radio,” she said.
According to a police Twitter post, officers responded at 10:47 a.m. Saturday to the Laurel Plaza Shopping Center and “observed a group of deceased seagulls all in close proximity to each other.”
Images of the scene released by police showed scattered feathers on the ground near a spread of pre-popped popcorn that investigation determined had been purchased by an unidentified subject from a Dollar Tree store in the plaza.
“The subject then emptied the bag of popcorn in the parking lot intentionally luring the group of seagulls,” according to police. “The subject then proceeded to run the group of seagulls over with their vehicle, killing at least 10 of the birds.”
Police say the subject then fled the scene after the incident, which occurred between 9 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.
“It was very upsetting, disheartening — it made me angry,” says Wilson.
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The lone surviving bird had a compound fracture and lost a lot of blood, reports FOX 5 DC.
“I was able to get a cardboard box, we poked some holes in it and I transferred it Frisky’s Wildlife Rehabilitation,” Wilson told CBS Baltimore.
“Police officers will tell you: Animal cruelty cases like this often escalate into more serious crimes being committed,” said a city spokesman, Audrey Barnes, according to the New York Post. “So we want to make an arrest and get this person the help that they need.”
The animal rights organization PETA announced a $5,000 reward for tips leading to an arrest and conviction for cruelty to animals in the case, police said.
Anyone with information is asked to call 301-498-0092 or email LPDtips@laurel.md.us.