Two dogs, mortally wounded after being forced to fight in a ring made of carpet and 2-foot-high wooden walls, were covered in blood. So were the two-car garage, where the ring was constructed, and the people crammed in the home on Ida Maybee Road in Raisinville Township.
Police say this is the gruesome scene they uncovered on the quiet road after Monroe County Sheriff Special Response Team officers raided the home early Sunday.
The fighting dogs — two of seven pit bulls taken from the home — died, after suffering bites. They may have been the main attraction, brought to fight by their suspected owners, James Broome and Willie Fletcher, said Chief Assistant Monroe County Prosecutor Jack Simms Jr.
“They could very well be the stars of the show,” he said.
Broome and Fletcher, from Belleville and Detroit, respectively, were arraigned Monday on charges of attending and participating in a dogfight. Today, 24 more suspects from southeast Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Georgia and Missouri are to be arraigned.
In court, Simms said dog fighting “is just a very vicious, callous, cruel thing.”
Dog fighting arrests bring some clues about Raisinville Township home
For more than a year, the modest frame home off Ida Maybee Road with the off-white siding was known for its dogs.
Different breeds of dogs roamed inside the Raisinville Township house, with pit bulls in the backyard and chained-up deep in the back of the property near a tree line at the end of a long field, neighbors say.
The dogs barked loudly and often. Trucks would park in the home’s muddy driveway with dog cages sitting in their beds.
On Sunday, after a police raid, the mystery of the home at in the 500 block of Ida Maybee may have been solved: illegal dogfighting, police say, operating out of the two-car garage.
Two people have been charged with attending and participating in a dogfight, and 24 others are expected to be arraigned in Monroe’s 1st District Court on charges today, according to law enforcement officials in Monroe County.
The investigation began with a tip to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, police said. A USDA spokeswoman said the case is being handled by its Office of the Inspector General. Detective Sgt. Heath Velliquette, of the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, said the office is assisting.
Nine dogs were taken from the home — both inside and out — on Sunday, including seven pit bulls or pit bull mixes, a 5-pound Pomeranian and an English bulldog.
Two of the pit bulls, believed to have been fighting shortly before the raid Sunday, died from their injuries: one on its way to Monroe County Animal Control and the second shortly after arriving.
“The two that died were really messed up,” said Monroe County Animal Control Director Linda Benson. She said the dogs had bite marks on them and were bloody.
The rest of the dogs are being kept in individual pens, in quarantine, at the animal control facility in Monroe. A 45-pound male pit bull found tied up outside the house has scars above his eye and near the nose. A second pit bull, a brown 66-pound male, had scars under his neck and on his back.
Benson said the animals have not been aggressive with humans.
On Monday, James Broome and Willie Fletcher, from Belleville and Detroit, respectively, were arraigned on charges of attending and participating in a dogfight. Today, 24 more people, hailing from southeast Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Georgia and Missouri, also are expected to be arraigned in connection with the dogfights.
In court Monday, Broome said he works full-time as a security guard in Taylor and has a wife and three children.
“I’ve never been in trouble in my life,” Broome told the judge. “I need to be home with my family.”
Broome, whose age was not given, is being held on a $25,000 cash or surety bond. Fletcher, 31, who has prior criminal offenses for weapons, armed robbery and is on probation for a similar animal fighting charge, was given a $150,000 cash or surety bond.
They’re both due back in court Thursday for a pretrial conference.
Velliquette said men and women, ranging from about 20 years old to 60, were arrested. The Michigan residents arrested, he said, are from Detroit, Belleville, Ypsilanti and Allen Park.
Also recovered from the home were marijuana, cocaine, a dog-training treadmill, dogfighting ring, $40,000 in cash and a handgun, police said.
Jack Laster of Ypsilanti said his nephew, also of Ypsilanti, may be in custody. He said police wouldn’t tell him whether his 31-year-old nephew is jailed.
“I don’t even know if he’s here,” said Laster, adding that people he knows told him his nephew may have been arrested. “When I talked to him, he was going to a barbecue.”
On Monday, a sheriff’s office helicopter was flying low over the home and surrounding property.
News of the dog fighting shocked neighbors in the rural suburb.
Two neighbors, who both spoke to the Free Press on Monday, but asked not to be identified because they were concerned that other dog fighting participants may still be at large, said they often heard loud barking coming from the home. They said the occupants of the home where dog fighting is alleged to have taken place had lived there for about a year and a half.
One neighbor said after complaining about the noise, the home’s residents put several dogs in the rear of the home along the tree line: It was far away, the neighbor said, and they had to drive food and water out to the dogs across the field in a truck.
Another neighbor said she once heard a dog crying. She said she wishes she had would have helped.
The owner of the house, Jerry Bugg, said he rented his home to a woman and her two teenage daughters about 18 months ago. They had permission to have two animals: the Pomeranian and a bulldog. Bugg said he moved to Cincinnati and hasn’t visited the house in six months, but plans to go to the home this week.
He said he is upset about the allegations.
“I’ve just been sick.”