Monroe officials call for calm over puppy video

MONROE — Internet-fueled rage over a video that appears to depict a Marine throwing a puppy off a cliff continued to grow Wednesday, turning the controversy into a community issue in Monroe.

Threats keep building toward the family of a man many believe is the Marine in the video, and from across the globe Internet vigilantes are calling the workplace of the man’s mother in Monroe and threatening acts of vandalism unless the mother is fired.

The business owner on Wednesday said there is no way he would terminate an employee over anger that others feel toward one of her adult children.

The Herald is not identifying the business because of safety concerns for its employees.

Targeting the family is wrong, City Councilman Mitch Ruth said.

“Certainly, the family members were not involved in the incident, whatever the incident was,” Ruth said. “I view this as a community issue as a whole.”

Ruth said his city e-mail address has been sent many “abusive, profane and harassing” messages accusing the city of tolerating animal cruelty. He urged people to calm down and let the U.S. Marine Corps complete its investigation about the video.

“The city of Monroe has no jurisdiction over this issue.” Ruth said. “If the act depicted in the video did occur, it’s very disturbing at any level. But it has nothing to do with the image of the community.”

The Marine from Monroe is stationed at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, where the investigation of the video is being conducted.

“I will not confirm that it is (the Monroe Marine) in the video,” Maj. Chris Perrine, a spokesman for the base, told The Herald on Wednesday. “The matter has been given to our Criminal Investigation Division, and they are conducting a very thorough investigation. In this day and age, you can’t just assume.”

Perrine said that it will be up to the military justice system to determine what happens with the case. For now “we need to find out if it’s authentic,” he said of the video. “Is it a hoax? Then we find out what laws have been broken and what steps to take afterwards.”

If the video turns out to be an accurate depiction of behavior by a Marine, investigators “will look at every Marine involved, those in the video and everyone in his chain of command because we want to make sure we have proper leadership,” Perrine said.

Regardless, the Marine Corps doesn’t approve of the video’s content and there are worries it could tarnish the image of servicemen and servicewomen in uniform, Perrine said.

The 17-second video shows someone dressed as a Marine throwing a puppy into a ravine. Its low resolution makes it difficult to determine whether the puppy is alive, dead or a toy.

The video started getting attention on Monday, with personal information about the Monroe man and his family posted on the Internet. Since then, controversy has gone viral, spreading through e-mails and prompting thousands of online comments on Web sites around the world.

The family disconnected their phone numbers after receiving threatening calls. Snohomish County sheriff’s deputies have visited the family’s home to ensure their safety.

“The family was going nuts with the media attention, all of it,” sheriff’s spokeswoman Rebecca Hover said. “That is the only complaint that they’ve had, which they communicated to a deputy. All the knocking on the doors is wearing them down; they just want to get on with their lives.”

The sister of the Monroe Marine told KIRO radio (710-AM) on Tuesday that the family is “living in a nightmare” because of the harassment coming from Internet vigilantes.

Monroe Mayor Donnetta Walser said that her primary concern is the family’s safety. People need to keep several things in mind before jumping to a conclusion, Walser said.

Investigators have yet to determine the video’s authenticity; the family in Monroe had nothing to do with what may have happened in the video; the city has nothing to do with the controversy.

“We don’t tolerate animal cruelty, but it is beyond our control,” Walser said.

Reporter Yoshiaki Nohara: 425-339-3029 or ynohara@heraldnet.com.

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