Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

DC Police Standoff Sees Three Officers Shot, 31 Dogs Rescued

A Washington, D.C. man shot three police officers while resisting arrest on animal cruelty grounds in a standoff lasting approximately 13 hours Feb. 14

Officers of the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) initially arrived at the residence of Stephen Rattigan, also known as Julius James, at the 5000 block of Hanna Place SE in the Civic Betterment neighborhood of Southeast D.C., to execute an arrest warrant on misdemeanor animal cruelty charges

In April 2023, James, 48, was captured on security camera footage beating one of his dogs several times in the face, and neighbors repeatedly reported smells and sounds that led them to believe James might have been abusing the animals inside his house. 

Lisa LaFontaine, President and CEO of the Humane Rescue Alliance (HRA), an organization that promotes animal rights and well-being, said members of the organization’s D.C. chapter were also present at the scene to investigate the animal abuse claims and take the dogs in. 

“Over the course of the investigation, HRA Humane Law Enforcement officers obtained evidence of the suspect allegedly striking and punching his dog, leading to an arrest warrant on charges of animal cruelty,” Lafontaine wrote in a statement provided to The Hoya. 

Max Broad, president of D.C. Voters for Animals (DC VFA), a D.C.-based political group that lobbies and campaigns for animal rights, said the incident — and James’ history of dog abuse — demonstrates the link between violence against animals and violence against other people. 

“It just goes to show and it goes to emphasize how strong the connection is between when people are exhibiting violence towards animals, and how likely it is that they’ll exhibit violence towards humans, and how much of a red flag that is,” Broad told The Hoya. 

Upon arriving at the residence and identifying themselves as the police, officers forcibly entered the front of the house but were met by several aggressive dogs, according to an affidavit filed in court. James refused to leave the house and began firing bullets through the house’s front door, injuring three officers; a fourth officer sustained injuries that were not gunshot-related

MPD Chief Pamela Smith said all three injured officers were healthy and in stable condition after being released from the hospital Feb. 15. 

“We know that they have a long recovery ahead of them, but whenever we have these types of situations that occur, it’s a good feeling when we can see our officers walking out of the hospital or even going out in a wheelchair,” Smith told reporters from WUSA. “We are very grateful and thankful to God that these injuries that occurred yesterday were not as serious as we assumed they were initially when the incident occurred.”

After James opened fire, MPD’s Emergency Response Team responded as backup, and James barricaded himself inside the house. He continued to shoot sporadically throughout the standoff.

For 12 hours, from approximately 8 a.m. until 8 p.m., police officers communicated with James by phone in an attempt to negotiate a peaceful resolution. 

James told officers over the phone that he had fired shots because he believed his dogs would attack the police when they opened the door and thought that the police would then kill his dogs. 

A Washington, D.C. man shot three police officers while resisting arrest on animal cruelty grounds in a standoff lasting approximately 13 hours Feb. 14.

The standoff ended when James surrendered and was promptly taken into custody around 8:30 p.m. 

A D.C. criminal court announced Feb. 15 that James had additionally been charged with assault with intent to kill while armed, assault on a police officer while armed and possession of a firearm during a violent crime. 

James’ attorney said in court that James had fired warning shots, did not know who was coming into the house and needed a mental health exam. 

LaFontaine wrote that the Humane Rescue Alliance was able to extricate 31 dogs of ages ranging from puppies to adults from the home, some of whom they found chained to the ground or in cages. 

“All the dogs are stable, and our care efforts are tailored to meet the unique needs of each individual,” LaFontaine wrote.

Broad said the close relationship between pets and people makes it important to act with compassion towards animals.

“We should care about protecting animals for their own sake,” Broad said. “But we should also recognize that it’s in our own interest to be compassionate towards the creatures we share this planet with.”

Alongside the dogs, investigators also found three handguns, two rifles and hundreds of rounds of ammunition while searching James’ residence, MPD said.

Smith told WUSA reporters that James’ large supply of firearms reflected the need for stronger gun control legislation including a bill, known as Secure D.C., which the D.C. City Council advanced Feb. 6.

“There’s a legislation that’s in that package that will increase the penalties for individuals who are carrying firearms illegally, using a semi-automatic and all these other things that’s attached to firearms,” Smith said. “It is my hope that the D.C. council will pass Secure D.C. in order to support the work that we’re doing here.”


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