A 30 year old Gautier man faces charges of commercial burglary and DUI following an early morning destructive rampage at the Jackson County animal shelter. Foster Houston Jr., is the man police say is responsible for the overnight vandalism.
Gautier police responded to an alarm at the shelter just before three o'clock this morning. The officer who got the call spotted Houston in a pick up truck. Houston took off but was arrested a few moments later on Highway 90.
At the shelter he left behind quite a mess.
Shelter Director Bill Richman discovered damage throughout the facility.
"This was fenced in here. And then he tore that wall up here, that concrete wall. This is stuff that we've pulled out of the building already that he drove through a rolled up door," Richman said.
A broken office window gave the intruder access to county truck keys. He rammed a garbage dumpster out back with one truck. Two shelter trucks were driven and damaged.
"The fortunate thing is our animals are okay. Our buildings are messed up. We've got some damage, but we can fix that," Richman said.
By late morning, only a few dogs were still roaming outside the shelter. The intruder turned 59 dogs loose. Most were rounded up and returned.
"There's no indication that he had any intention to hurt animals. We really don't know what his intentions were. But he didn't do any, he didn't do anything harmful to the animals other than turn them loose. And of course he tore the buildings up," Richman said.
County maintenance crews spent much of the day repairing the damage. Some here wonder if the destruction might have been any worse. The vandal got into a container of kerosene, pouring some in an entryway and some into a truck.
The Gautier officer who found the suspect at the scene and arrested him a short distance away may have prevented even more damage to the shelter.
Even if Houston had not been arrested early this morning, there's a good chance he would have been caught later. The vandalism was caught on video tape by the shelter's security surveillance cameras.
By the way, Bill Richman has been director of this county run facility for just four weeks.