Three pit bulls surround Odessa jogger; 2 are shot

Published Nov. 18, 2012

ODESSA — Lucia Adkins knew something would happen. It was only a matter of time, she said.

Since she moved into a house on Ridgebrook Circle in the Keystone Crossings subdivision, someone has been sending anonymous letters letting her know they don't appreciate her presence in the neighborhood.

Then Saturday morning, she got a call from her friend, Thomas Tyree, 50.

"He said, 'You need to come home now. They shot the dogs,' " said Adkins, 47, a chef at Concordia Lutheran School in Tampa.

According to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, Adkins' three pit bulls escaped her yard and surrounded a jogger on Ridgebrook Circle at 7:22 a.m.

"The woman said she did not feel threatened by the dogs at all," said Debbie Carter, a spokeswoman for the sheriff.

Still, a neighbor, Steven Lamb, 54, came out with a handgun and began chasing the dogs, according to reports. The jogger heard gunshots.

Residents Timothy and Marie Smith and their children, ages 10 and 12, were at home when a bullet broke through glass and landed in their kitchen. They were not injured.

But two of Adkins' three dogs were not so fortunate. Diamond, a 10-month-old female, was shot in the face and hip and later euthanized by a veterinarian. Breezy, a 10-month-old male, was shot in the left side. Momma, a 2-year-old, was not injured.

Adkins said she stayed with Diamond at the vet's office until she died. "Her whole bottom jaw had been blown off her face and she had been shot in the back," Adkins said. "It was like she knew. She didn't cry."

Saturday night, Adkins was awaiting news about Breezy, who has a bullet lodged in his abdomen. His vet bills may climb into the thousands, she said.

Adkins said she warned the Sheriff's Office in June that something bad could happen, after she received another anonymous letter.

"The residents of Keystone Crossings and the Lake Maurine Drive subdivision will, in full compliance with the law, not allow your presence to alter our peaceful, respectful quiet neighborhood," the letter read in part.

The four-page document enumerated problems "many" residents had with Adkins, including that her son, Andrew T. Adkins, a 26-year-old line cook, had served prison time and was on probation for a 2007 robbery charge.

Included in the letter was a printout of Andrew Adkins' Department of Corrections release information with his mug shot, probation officer's name and number, and the phone number of a Hillsborough Sheriff's Office major. The writer claimed to be working under the direction of a "senior Hillsborough County Sheriff's Department officer."

It went on to complain that Adkins' dogs barked, that she dumped palm fronds over the wall of her back yard, that a car that sped through a nearby subdivision was seen at her home, and that a man had been heard talking loudly to children and commanding them to do physical activities.

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Each complaint noted that a state authority could or would be contacted. Adkins said she has been visited by the Florida Department of Children and Families, Hillsborough deputies, the Hillsborough Environmental Protection Commission and Hillsborough County Animal Services in the past six months. All received anonymous calls reporting her alleged misdeeds.

She said she was cleared in every case. She acknowledged that she did have to get her dog vaccinated and registered in August because of the Animal Services visit. The Sheriff's Office confirmed that was the only problem found in an Animal Services investigation this summer.

"If they were aggressive, wouldn't they have been removed from the home then?" Adkins asked. "If something was wrong, wouldn't they have taken them away?"

The Sheriff's Office hasn't said the letters and anonymous calls are connected to Lamb or the shooting of the dogs. The shooting remains under investigation. Deputies will consult with the State Attorney's Office about the case.

Adkins wonders how her dogs escaped her yard. She said she had her gate blocked from the inside and outside to prevent the dogs from getting out.

She had planned to move out in the new year because of the hostility she encountered, but Saturday's shootings will speed up her time line.

"We don't even walk our dogs in this neighborhood because we are so afraid," she said.

"They say gated communities are supposed to keep the bad people out, but really, they keep the bad ones in."