Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

St. Petersburg man charged with shooting neighbor's dogs for no apparent reason

ST. PETERSBURG — Joseph McGinley noticed the two dogs in the street Wednesday night and immediately slowed down.

He didn't think anything until, moments later, he saw a young man call to the pit bulls, who ambled over. As McGinley slowly drove past, he glanced in his rearview mirror.

"I heard the pop, then I saw the flash," McGinley said.

One of the animals, a one-year-old white pit bull named Tatiana, ran off, yelping. So did the man.

McGinley — at a stop sign about 50 feet away near Second Avenue S and 53rd Street — put his car in reverse and called 911.

"Honestly, I thought he had thrown a firecracker at the dog," McGinley said. But when he got back to the spot where the man and dogs were standing, McGinley didn't find the remnants of a firecracker. On the ground was a shell casing from a .380-caliber gun.

"I couldn't believe it," McGinley, 30, said. "He shot the dog."

Minutes later, the dog's owner, Chaz Smith, appeared.

Smith said he recognized McGinley's description of the shooter as Shawn Guizzotti, his 20-year-old neighbor. Smith said he sometimes sees the young man hanging outside, but has never had any trouble with him.

"I really, really don't know why he did it," Smith said, adding that he is torn between being upset that someone hurt his dog and empathy for a young man he hopes has not ruined his life with this mistake. "Sounds like he had a gun and wanted to use it. I'm sad on both ends."

The bullet that struck Tatiana went through her right shoulder; she is expected to survive. Smith said his dogs rarely get out of the yard.

Authorities said they quickly located Guizzotti, who led officers in a short foot chase, according to Mike Puetz, police spokesman. He was arrested on a charge of animal cruelty but more charges could be added.

Records show Guizzotti was released from prison last summer after serving a little more than a year for battery and drug charges. He was out on bail for a burglary charge from January.

McGinley, who said he has an older pit bull of his own, called the incident "senseless."

He said Smith's dogs were docile and that he initially figured Guizzotti was their owner because they approached him in such a friendly manner.

"They weren't aggressive to him at all," he said. "For anybody to hurt an animal for no reason, they need to be punished."

St. Petersburg man charged with shooting neighbor's dogs for no apparent reason 04/18/13 [Last modified: Thursday, April 18, 2013 6:10pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Macy's chairman replaces ex-HSN head Grossman on National Retail Federation board


    Terry Lundgren, chairman of Macy's Inc., will replace Weight Watchers CEO Mindy Grossman as chair of the National Retail Federation, the organization announced Wednesday. Grossman stepped down from her position following her move from leading St. Petersburg-based HSN to Weight Watchers.

    Weight Watchers CEO and former HSN chief Mindy Grossman is being replaced as chair of the National Retail Federation. [HSN Inc.]
  2. Team begins work to exhume Salvador Dali's body for paternity test


    FIGUERES, Spain — A forensic team on Thursday entered the Salvador Dali museum in northeastern Spain where the surrealist artist's remains are due to be exhumed to settle a paternity claim brought by a 61- year-old woman.

    Spanish surrealist painter Salvador Dali, presents his first Chrono-Hologram in Paris, France, in 1973. Work has begun to exhume his body for a parternity test. Dali, considered one of the fathers of surrealism in art, died in 1989 and is buried in his museum in the northeastern town of Figueres. [Associated Press]
  3. Good news for Rays on Steven Souza Jr. as MRI shows 'no damage' to hip


    The Rays got good news today on RF Steven Souza Jr., as an MRI showed "no damage" to his left hip.

    Steven Souza Jr. #20 of the Tampa Bay Rays holds his leg after hurting himself trying to steal second base in the first inning against the Oakland Athletics at Oakland Alameda Coliseum on July 19, 2017 in Oakland, California.
  4. Spring Hill couple arrested on drug charges after months-long investigation


    SPRING HILL — A Spring Hill couple was arrested Wednesday on several drug charges after a months-long investigation by the Hernando County Sheriff's Office.

    Hernando County Sheriff's Office detectives stand behind 24 pounds of marijuana seized by the agency during a drug bust this week. [Photo by Megan Reeves]
  5. New Pinellas Trail stretch draws raves at opening

    Human Interest

    EAST LAKE — Mike Siebel bikes the Pinellas Trail four days a week and loops up and down the Suncoast Trail at least a couple times every year. A 68-year-old cycling diehard, he was so eager for the opening of the 5-mile segment extending the Pinellas Trail to the Pasco border that he would often drive across …

    Cyclists wait for the official opening of the Pinellas Trail's newest segment. JIM DAMASKE   |   Times