KATY, Texas (FOX 26) - Harris County Precinct 5 deputy constables respond to a reported burglary in progress, but they end up killing a family dog before realizing it was a false alarm. It happened in a strange sequence of events in the Green Trails subdivision at 6 p.m. on Thursday.
Hanne Barbarawi tells FOX 26 News that she was at work when she received a call letting her know to come home, because shots had been fired at her house.
"My heart fell," said the mother of four children. "I thought something had happened to my sons. We don't own a gun."
A neighbor had reported seeing a burglar break into the Barbarawi family's second floor window from the roof, but it was Barbarawi's son who had climbed out of his window to get photos of the sunset. He must have been seen climbing back in.
"He likes doing things like that, so that's what he was doing on a roof," explained Barbarawi.
Pct. 5 deputy constables responded quickly to the neighborhood. They had stepped up patrols because of an increased number of burglaries in the area and say that the front door of the home was ajar, and when they pushed it open, out came the dog. They wrote in a statement to FOX 26, "growling and baring its teeth" as it came.
An officer then shot the dog two times, killing it, then yelled into the home for anyone inside to come out with their hands up.
Barbarawi's 13- and 15-year-old sons were the only ones home. They didn't understand what was going on, but they complied. That's when officers figured out it had all been a mistake.
"My son told me that as soon as he realized the boys that came out actually live here, and he had shot the family dog, the police officer put his hands on his head and started crying," Barbarawi said. "He was extremely upset."
The dog, named Sadie, had been part of her family for 9 years, and Barbarawi was very emotional about her passing. But Barbarawi says in this situation, she is just very grateful her sons weren't shot.
"All I could think of in my head is, what if my son, who was described to be the burglar... what if he were the one that opened the door," she said. "I keep playing in my head that he would have been the one that was shot.
Barbarawi says she knows the police were doing their job. She's not asking anyone to get in trouble for this, or lose their job, she just wants awareness for the neighborhood. Deputies told her her sons were very polite and compliant and there was nothing they could have done differently. But she'd like to know if constables should review their own procedures.
"Maybe they could have approached the situation differently, so people don't get hurt and animals don't get hurt and killed for no reason."
Here is the full text of Precinct 5 statement:
"Deputies from the Harris County Constable's Office Pct. 5 responded to a burglary in progress call in the Green Trails Subdivision. A witness reported seeing a male subject enter the residence through a second floor window and that this subject had not exited the residence.The first deputy on scene found the front door to the residence ajar. He announced "Police", at which point he heard large dogs inside the residence barking and running toward the front door. He attempted to pull the door closed but one of the dogs exited through the door before he was able to. The dog was growling and baring its teeth as it came at the deputy who began retreating, as he did the dog continued to advance in an aggressive manner and the deputy discharged his pistol killing the dog.During the course of the following investigation it was determined that the subject who had entered the second floor window did in fact live there, and had gone out onto the roof to take photographs of the sunset."
The constable's account and the Hanne Barbarawi's account match almost exactly, with 2 exceptions. First she says, according to her boys, the front door was not locked, but it was shut, not ajar. Second, she says Sadie is a friendly, mild mannered dog, used to people coming to the house. She has a hard time believing Sadie was that aggressive with the officers.
But she says the constables were very very apologetic about what happened. It was all just a very unfortunate series of events.