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Arizona Hiker Kills Another Hiker After Dog Confrontation

May 30 2004 at 10:33 AM
Arizona Republic  (Login dipper)

This story also has a picture of the lab.

Shooting of dog-walker called justified

Grant Kuenzli (shown with his Labrador retriever, Maggie) was killed May
11 on a forest trail north of Payson.

Payson-area trail death deemed self-defense

Peter Corbett
The Arizona Republic
May. 22, 2004 12:00 AM

It was a common Arizona hiking confrontation: big, unleashed dogs on a
trail, turning a peaceful walk in the woods into a frightening ordeal of
snarling teeth and vicious barking.

Usually it is settled with words, sometimes angry. This time it turned

Coconino County sheriff's detectives say the shooting of 43-year-old Grant
Kuenzli was a justifiable homicide. But the victim's friends say he was a
peaceful man who had volunteered to take a couple of dogs from an animal
shelter out for exercise and didn't deserve to die.

The encounter occurred 11 days ago near Payson, when Kuenzli was hiking
through the woods on the Pine Canyon Trail with his dog, a yellow Labrador
retriever named Maggie, and two other dogs, a chow and a German shepherd

The dogs, which were not on leashes, ran ahead and apparently startled
Harold Fish, a 57-year-old retiree from Phoenix, according to sheriff's
Detective Scott Feagan.

Fish, who was carrying a 10mm semiautomatic pistol in a holster, felt
threatened, Feagan said, and fired a warning shot into the ground near the
dogs and then three shots at Kuenzli, all of which hit him in the chest.

"Our investigation leads us to believe this is a situation of
self-defense," Feagan said. "(Fish) was under attack."

Fish could not be reached for comment. There were no other witnesses.

Payson retiree John McCauley, 73, who befriended Kuenzli at Payson's dog
park, described him as "a very gentle person" who loved dogs and the

McCauley and others in Payson who knew Kuenzli said it does not add up
that he and his dogs would have been a threat to another hiker.

Feagan related Fish's account of the shooting:

Kuenzli's barking dogs charged at Fish, who yelled at Kuenzli to call them
off. Fish fired a warning shot when the lead dog, the chow, was within 6
feet of him.

Fish looked up and saw Kuenzli running down the hill, fists clenched, and
yelling at him. He warned him to stop. Kuenzli charged forward. Fish shot
him three times.

Fish then hiked out and flagged down a passer-by to alert the Sheriff's
Department. Kuenzli was dead when the paramedics arrive.

Fish had no wounds from the dogs.

Both Kuenzli and Fish were each about 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighed
close to 200 pounds.

Feagan said the chow that charged Fish has a documented history of

That is disputed by Larry Stubbs, Payson Humane Society president.

Kuenzli, who volunteered at the Payson shelter, had taken the chow and
shepherd out for a hike with Maggie, a therapy dog that he took to senior

Stubbs, a retired Phoenix police officer, said the shelter would have
euthanized either dog if it was vicious.

He said the Sheriff's Department had not contacted him.

McCauley said he believes that Kuenzli probably yelled at Fish not to kill
his dogs.

"I don't think the guy who shot him was doing anything malicious,"
McCauley said.

"I just think he overreacted."

William Boa, a Mesa police volunteer for 14 years and a gun instructor,
said a dog could be considered a lethal weapon.

"The question is: Are you in fear of your life and did you take a
reasonable action?" said Boa, who teaches a concealed-weapons permit

Fish had a permit but was carrying his pistol openly, which is legal in

A warning shot might indicate that Fish had time to flee, Boa said.

"Personally, I would have shot the dog first," he said.

Although detectives say the shooting appears to have been justified, they
do intend to present the case to a Coconino County grand jury.

It will be several weeks before any results are known.

McCauley said he is concerned that Kuenzli will be portrayed to a grand
jury as homeless and a "loose cannon."

Kuenzli was living in the woods near Payson, but he showered and shaved
every day and was well-adjusted, McCauley said.

He worked as a fire inspector for the Gilbert Fire Department from July
1998 to April 1999.

Kuenzli also had a Web site listing himself as a pet photographer and
appeared on an Internet listing of Arizonans for Howard Dean.

"He had plenty of money, a bank account and a $1,000 check on him when he
was killed," McCauley said.

Stubbs, of the Payson Humane Society, said people in Payson are wondering
how the shooting could have happened.

"He was such mild-mannered guy, they can't understand it," Stubbs said.

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(Login dipper)

Second Degree Murder Charges in Case

June 5 2004, 12:16 PM
Murder charges filed in dog-owner's fatal shooting

Peter Corbett
The Arizona Republic
Jun. 4, 2004 04:15 PM
Coconino County Attorney Terry Hance filed second-degree murder charges today against a Phoenix man who claimed self-defense in the fatal shooting last month in the woods north of Payson.

Harold Fish, 57, a retired Spanish teacher, shot 43-year-old Grant Kuenzli three times in the chest with 10 mm semi-automatic pistol on May 11.

Fish told Coconino County sheriff's investigators that he felt threatened when Kuenzli's three dogs and then Kuenzli charged at him along the Pine Canyon Trail in the Coconino National Forest.

Detective Scott Feagan said last month that the evidence would show that Fish acted in self-defense.

But after reviewing the evidence, Hance decided to file second-degree murder charges. The county attorney said he could not talk about the evidence.

"The case will speak for itself," Hance said.

Fish, who is not in custody, will face a preliminary hearing as earlier as next week, said Hance, adding that the case could go to a grand jury.

Fish's attorney, Melvin McDonald, a former U.S. attorney, said he is disappointed that Hance filed charges despite Detective Feagan's conclusion that Fish acted in self-defense.

"There are laws on the books against this kind of assault {ellipsis} in a remote area by a man and his vicious dogs," McDonald said. "You're entitled to protect yourself."

Kuenzli's death sparked outrage among Arizonans who could not understand why an unarmed man would be shot even if his unleashed dogs charged at Fish.

Fish, who was completing a hike just before sundown, was not hurt by the dogs - a chow mix, shepherd mix and a yellow Labrador retriever. The dogs are being held in the Flagstaff dog pound.

Kuenzli's sister, Linda Altmeter, 46, of Fowler, Ill., said the charges are appropriate.

"I'm gratified to know that my brother's life was recognized and was worth a charge against the person who stole it," she said. "I don't think (Fish) had very much remorse."

If convicted of second-degree murder, Fish could face a sentence of 10 to 22 years in prison.

In his only public statement, Fish said last month that he only had seconds to react when the dogs and then Kuenzli charged down a hill toward him.

"He was on top of me. I couldn't get away," Fish said. "He had this look in his eyes."

Fish would not say if Kuenzli verbally threatened him or explain why he shot Kuenzli and not the chow-mix dog that initially charged at him.

Kuenzli, a former firefighter, was living out of his car in the national forest near Payson. His sister said he was on medical disability but she did not know why.

Kuenzli was a volunteer with the Payson Humane Society and had a Web site promoting himself as a pet photographer. Two of the dogs with him at the time of the shooting were from the Humane Society shelter.

Friends in Payson said Kuenzli was a nonviolent man who loved animals and chose to live in the woods. They said they do not believe that he would have charged at Fish.

In a brief phone interview May 24 with The Arizona Republic, Fish said that he shot Kuenzli to "avoid death or serious injury."

Fish, the father of seven children, retired a year ago from Tolleson High School.

"I do feel a sense of duty to account for my action," Fish said. "I'm not afraid to do that."

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Arizona Daily Sun
(Login KenAkerman)

Trail shooter charged with murder

June 5 2004, 9:53 PM 

FLAGSTAFF - The Glendale man who contends he shot and killed a homeless hiker May 11 near Payson in self-defense has been charged with second-degree murder.

According to a complaint filed in Flagstaff Justice Court Friday, Harold A. Fish, 57, "... without premeditation, knowing that his conduct would cause death, caused the death of Grant Edward Kuenzli ..."

Second-degree murder is a Class 1 felony (see related story).

"I am extremely disappointed," said Fish's attorney, A. Melvin McDonald, who was visiting Flagstaff Friday to pick up documents for his client's case. "This isn't a murder. This is a classic case of self-defense. We're looking forward to either a preliminary hearing or a grand jury."

Click here to read the article from the Arizona Daily Sun.

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(Login dipper)

Dogs From Arizona Shooting Released to New Owners

August 18 2004, 10:22 AM 

Maggie, Sheba and Hank -- the three dogs who were with Grant Kuenzli when he was shot and killed -- have been released by the Coconino County Attorney's Office and have been placed in new homes, according to a reliable source.


While neither Coconino County Attorney Roberta McVickers nor Arizona Animal Defense League of Arizona (ADLA) lawyer Stephanie Nichols-Young would return repeated phone calls, the Roundup has learned that Nichols-Young drafted the agreement that allowed the dogs to be placed in permanent homes. The agreement stipulates that the dogs be made available in the event they are needed for the second-degree murder trial of Harold Fish, the Valley man accused of gunning Kuenzli down May 11 when the dogs allegedly charged him at a remote trailhead south of Clint's Well.

Dennis Pugh, executive director of the Coconino County Humane Association, said he was told by McVickers not to talk about the dogs, but did say he was happy they had been released. The dogs went to the homes of three Payson residents, chosen from among many locals who volunteered to adopt the animals following the tragedy.


Maggie, a yellow Lab mix, was Kuenzli's own dog, while Sheba, a German shepherd mix, and Hank, a chow mix, were Payson Humane Society dogs that Kuenzli had taken to his campsite for an overnight visit. The three dogs were taken from the scene by a Coconino County animal control officer and housed in separate cages at a Flagstaff animal shelter. A group of Payson-area dog lovers organized to try and save the dogs and visited them on a regular basis.

Although he was unmarked and uninjured, Fish claimed that he was acting in self defense after Kuenzli threatened to kill him.

There was concern that a judge could determine the dogs dangerous based on Fish's allegations and order them euthanized.


The names of the dogs' new owners are being withheld to protect the animals, but Maggie, Kuenzli's dog, was adopted by a couple in Strawberry, according to John McCauley, a close friend of Kuenzli's, who has followed developments in the case closely.

"I think it's fantastic," McCauley said of the dogs' release and adoption, "especially since they went to good homes, and they were checked out carefully by the (ADLA)."

Fish, who remains free, has pleaded not guilty to a charge of second degree murder.

A hearing scheduled for Monday in Coconino County Superior Court to determine release conditions was postponed until Sept. 27.

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(Login dipper)

Florida Dog Shoots Man in Self Defense

September 9 2004, 5:50 PM 

Thanks to Alan for this! You just can't make this up!

Nice shootin', Rex!

A man who tried to shoot seven puppies was shot himself when one of the dogs put its paw on the revolver's trigger.
Jerry Allen Bradford, 37, was charged with felony animal cruelty, the Escambia County Sheriff's Office said Wednesday. He was being treated at a hospital for a gunshot wound to his wrist.

Bradford said he decided to shoot the 3-month-old shepherd-mix dogs in the head because he couldn't find them a home, according to the sheriff's office.
On Monday, Bradford was holding two puppies -- one in his arms and another in his left hand -- when the dog in his hand wiggled and put its paw on the trigger of the .38-caliber revolver. The gun then discharged, the sheriff's report said.

Deputies found three of the puppies in a shallow grave outside Bradford's home, said sheriff's Sgt. Ted Roy.

The other four appeared to be in good health and were taken by Escambia County Animal Control, which planned to make them available for adoption.

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Rich Allen
(Login lobodelnoche)

Score one for the dogs

September 10 2004, 5:25 PM 

Too bad the puppy didn't have a better aim.

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(Login dipper)

Judge Throws Out Murder Charge in Arizona Shooting Over Dog Confrontation

March 25 2005, 9:53 AM 

Azcentral reports a judge has thrown out the murder charge against a man who killed another hiker in a dispute over dogs on a trail in Coconino County.

The ruling will send the case against Harold Fish back to a Grand Jury if prosecutors choose to do so. Fish is accused of shooting Grant Kuenzili three times with a 10mm pistol on May 11, 2004 near the Pine Canyon Trailhead. Kuenzili was unarmed. Fish had maintained three unleashed dogs (a chow, a Labrador mix and a German shepherd mix) had threatened him and that Kuenzli charged him after he pulled out his pistol and fired a warning shot in the ground.

Coconino County Superior Court Judge Mark Moran said prosecutors omitted significant facts and did not correct misleading testimony in a daylong presentation of their case against Fish.

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(Login dipper)

Murder Charges Refiled in Arizona Trail Dog Confrontation

April 2 2005, 11:25 PM 

Arizona Central reports prosecutors have refiled the second degree murder charges against Harold Fish who is accused of shooting an unarmed hiker in a dog confrontation at a Coconino County trailhead near Payson this spring.

The judge recently threw out a grand jury indictment saying more evidence should have been presented. In this case the prosecutor says he will present the case directly to the judge.

Fish shot Grant Kuenzli 3x after firing two warning shots into the ground after he was charged by three unleashed dogs. Fish says Kuenzli was running toward him threatening to kill him. The original prosecutor had refused to prosecute saying it was self-defense. After a public outcry, the second degree murder charge was filed.

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(Login dipper)

2006 Jury Trial in Arizona Shooting Case

May 14 2005, 10:56 PM 

The Arizona Daily Sun reports Harold Fish has been charged again for the second-degree murder of unarmed Grant Kuenzli following a dog confrontration on a trail near Payson, Arizona

Fish waived his right to a preliminary hearing and a jury trial is to take place in 2006.

A public outcry arose after the initial prosecutor in the case said he was not going to file charges. Fish was indicted by a Grand Jury. However a court though out the indictment saying not enough evidence was presented. The cited additional evidence concerned the history of the aggressiveness of the two dogs (a lab and a chow) that met Fish on the trail; and that testimony concerning the speed of Kuenzli when he approached Fish.

Kuenzli was shot three times.

More info and links:

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NRA Bankrolls Defense in Arizona Hiker Shooting

May 13 2006, 9:34 PM 

Lost hikers in San Jacinto Mountains in California stumbled upon the campsite of a hiker missing for a year and his equipment is believed to have spared their lives.
Missing man's pack rescues lost <strong>hikers </strong>
The Olympian - Olympia,WA,USA
IDYLLWILD, Calif. — A couple that got lost on a hike and spent three nights in the San Jacinto Mountains stumbled upon the campsite <strong>... </strong>
See all stories on this topic

Pair Are Rescued With Aid of Lost <strong>Hiker </strong>
Los Angeles Times - CA,USA </p>

Brandon Day, 28, and Gina Allen, 24, of Dallas said they found a backpack of supplies in the deserted campsite of John Donovan, a little more than a year after he vanished.

Donovan's matches "gave us the means to get out," Allen said in a telephone interview Wednesday, a day after the couple were rescued. </p>

Two people who were lost for three nights in the San Jacinto Mountains were rescued after they stumbled across the campsite of a long-lost <strong>hiker </strong> and used his <strong>... </strong>
See all stories on this topic </p>

<strong>Hiker </strong> rescued from the Geysers in Sonoma County
KESQ - Palm Desert,CA,USA
SANTA ROSA, Calif. A 36-year-old <strong>hiker </strong> was rescued from the Geysers in Sonoma County yesterday evening after he hurt his leg. Lou <strong>... </strong>

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Jury in Arizona Hiker Shooting Find Bullet on Trail

May 13 2006, 9:45 PM 

A jury member in the Grant Kuenzli case found a bullet at the crime scene when they were taken there.
Fish trial takes strange twist
Payson Roundup - Payson,AZ,USA
<strong>... </strong> when one of the 11-member jury visiting the scene of the alleged crime found a spent .10 mm cartridge on the ground not far from where <strong>Grant </strong><strong>Kuenzli's </strong> body was

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