A chubby cat loved by many in his community, Tuxedo’s tragic death left a hole in hearts both human and feline, but justice is finally at work with the arrest of his alleged killer.
Considered the “Mayor” of NYCHA’s Breukelen Houses, Tuxedo was a handsome black and white cat with a heart for the other kitties in his community feral cat colony. He and his lady cat friend, Meanie, often looked out for the new cats who came around. And without his well-dressed best friend to pad around with, cat Supermac has been “very depressed,” according to Latonya Walker, Tuxedo’s caretaker and one of his biggest fans.
Those following the world of feline rescue and TNR know Walker as Sassee Badass, and the feral and stray cats of Brooklyn know her as the kind lady with the yummy food. As one of her charges since 2011, Tuxedo certainly loved Walker, their tight friendship obvious to see in various photos of the pair taken during past interviews. She was devastated over the targeted attack and death of her cherished cat friend.
A Good Cat Murdered
On January 13th, Raymond Morales was preparing for work when the sounds of what he thought to be dogs fighting stopped him in his tracks. What he found when he went to investigate was horrifying.
Morales told The New York Post, “I peeked out my window and I saw these two f–king people like antagonizing a cat.”
Tuxedo was up a tree trying to stay away from two riled and snarling dogs. He held onto the branches for dear life as a young man and woman beat at him with a stick in an effort to make him fall. When they succeeded in knocking him from the tree, the man “let the dogs go like ‘get ‘em’ exactly just like that.”
“The cat was screaming, it was trying to defend itself against two pitbulls as best as it can. Seriously, that was the worst.”
Morales yelled for them to stop, but Tuxedo had already been grievously injured, left barely alive by two people’s choice to torture an innocent animal. After his death, The Animal Care Centers of NYC performed an examination that ruled the injuries to Tuxedo’s head and jaw resulted from an attack by two large dogs.
After Tuxedo’s cruel death, Walker learned of six other missing cats in the area, 3 of which were later found dead with injuries similar to Tuxedo’s. She suspects the same dogs could be the culprits in these instances.
Justice in Motion
The justice system is finally in motion regarding Tuxedo’s murder. But it took a monumental effort to make it happen. After much urging by the community, media attention, and an online petition hosted by Animal Victory gathered more than 20,000 signatures from signers worldwide, the NYPD released a wanted poster, revealing the suspects and the dogs in question.
After an investigation and nearly a month after Tuxedo’s cruel death, the NYPD arrested Fulton Gordon, 28, on February 8th. He’s been charged with torturing, injuring or not feeding an animal. Considered a misdemeanor crime, Gordon was issued a desk appearance ticket and will be arraigned on a date yet to be scheduled.
Janelle Babington, founder of Animal Victory, commented to The New York Times, “We’re very glad there is an arrest, but we’re very upset that he’s not in jail.”
For those of us who know the importance and magic of animals, we know everything about what Gordon and his girlfriend did was wrong. If indeed complicit in the horrific and terrifying death they doled out to Tuxedo, what they’ve taught their dogs is wrong too. To encourage canine aggression against cats is an act of intolerable cruelty to both species.
In a claim made to The Times, Fulton Gordon says he’s innocent of the charges. He reportedly feels terrible, claiming, “I would never do anything to intentionally harm an animal.”
Gordon insists Tuxedo was hanging from a branch by his paws and that his girlfriend’s dogs got loose by accident. “I was trying to help it.”
Reported video evidence shows otherwise.
Grief, Compassion, and A Desire for Better
Walker holds an ocean of grief in her heart over Tuxedo’s loss, and she’s relieved justice is in motion for the beloved cat’s murder, but her compassionate heart wants more than punishment for Gordon. She also wants him to learn how to be better.
“I wish we’d learn to love and respect each other, [there’s] enough young black men in jail. Respect goes a long way,” Walker shared with The Post. “And there are people from the hood that love animals, not abusing them.”
As she believes with the cats she so loves, Walker “would prefer to save somebody than to take them down and make them worse. I would love a rehabilitation, I would love to teach them about animals.”
For the rest of the world, Walker offers this message:
“And everyone else, keep your damn animals on the leash and don’t think it’s cute to try to attack anybody because you’re teaching the animal to be a weapon and that’s not fair to the animal.”
Put plainly, Walker has the right of it. Be good to animals; treat them as you want to be treated.
After learning of Gordon’s claim to be helping Tuxedo, Walker said she’s open to the idea of Gordon’s claim to innocence and would be “thrilled” if this were the case.
She told him through The New York Times, “That would make me feel so good to know that you didn’t mean to do this and it got out of hand, and you’re not going to do it again.”
Rest Well, Handsome Tuxedo
As cat lovers, we can’t understand how anyone would want to harm a feline. We want a better world for all cats, and this means teaching everyone the importance of compassion. Sadly, this case has seen the loss of a beloved cat, the alleged improper handling of dogs by the people who should do better by them, and fistfuls grief and outrage.
And while justice for Tuxedo is in motion with Gordon’s arrest, we have to keep working together to save the lives of cats. Hopefully, our work will influence more to our cat cause. And perhaps, one day in the future, we will arrive at a time when no cats have to suffer due to human cruelty.
Please SHARE to pass on this story to a friend or family member.
Feature Image: @sassee_badass_tnr/Instagram & Image Courtesy of Animalvictory.org