Residents of Clark County WA grieved and worried earlier this year as cat after cat was shot dead or wounded in a months long drive-by shooting spree which stretched from March through June 5. Eventually, Mitchell S. Kangas, 16, Jaren M. Koistinen, 16, and Riley J. Munger, 17, were arrested after a resident reported to police that her 7-year-old cat, Nellie, was shot in the face at 7:30 p.m. on Northeast Third Avenue in Battle Ground. She saw the shooters and described their blue SUV, and police quickly spotted the vehicle, found two rifles and undreds of bullets, and made the arrests. Nellie was the second of the family’s cats to have been shot by the spree killers; another family pet, Lucy, had previously been found laying bloodied on the ground.
The three are thought to have shot over 100 cats, and admitted that they had shot at least 50. On September 14, the teens made a deal with prosecutors and pled guilty. They will receive fairly light sentences, by our estimation.
Koistenen and Kangas both pled guilty to one count of drive-by shooting and 12 counts of animal cruelty. They told the judge they took turns with driving and shooting the animals from the car. The prosecution is asking 2 years in juvenile detention for Kangas and Koistinen, and one month in juvenile detention for Munger. The defense wants 1 year for Kangas and Koistinen.
Kangas admitted on audio and video when questioned by police that he and Koistinen had shot up to 100 cats and 2 dogs and hurt or killed 50 of them. According to court documents, the shooters never got out of the car to check on the animals and Kangas said “Sometimes the cats would fall over and die, other times the cats would jump up and run away.” Kangas said the rifles belonged to his father, who was unaware of their use.
As though the acts were not sickening and hurtful enough, Kangas said that he considers the shootings sport hunting.
A second hearing today determined that entencing will be made at on October 4, after review of psychological documents and consultation with Juvenile Court staff. The two shooters are currently under house arrest and staying with their parents when not at school or work.
After today’s hearing, prosecutors said it had been a tough call whether to charge the teens – 16 and 17 at the time of the shootings – as juveniles rather than adults, and they were charged as juveniles. Clark county Deputy Prosecutor Kasey Vu defended the decision, saying “Throwing them into the adult prison system, chances are they probably wouldn’t get the psychological evaluation and therapy they obviously need.”