El Paso Firefighter Arrested, Cruelty to Animals Causing Death alleged

Shawn Michael Hanke

Shawn Michael Hanke | Mug shot courtesy EPPD

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – A member of the El Paso Fire Department was arrested on Tuesday, October 26 on alleged cruelty to animals causing death charges, after five cats and one dog were found poisoned in late May 2021.

According to the El Paso Police Department (EPPD), on May 28, 2021, residents in the 2700 block of Fierro called them to report suspicious behavior.

“Residents observed a man placing plates of cat food in the area, which neighbors found suspicious. Days later, five cats and one dog became ill and died due to the tainted food.”

El Paso Police Department

Officials say that an investigation by the EPPD’s Animal Cruelty Investigation unit (ACIU) determined that 48-year-old Shawn Michael Hanke was responsible for the poisoning deaths of the animals.

The case was presented to Judge Hamilton, who issued six warrants for Cruelty to Animal Causing Death with bail set at $2,500 for each count.

EPPD officials say that on October 26, 2021, Hanke turned himself in for the Animal Cruelty Warrants,and was booked into the El Paso County Detention Facility with a total bond of $15,000.00.

Law enforcement officials add that the Animal cruelty causing death charge is a third-degree felony in Texas and punishable for up to 10 years in prison, with a fine of up to $10,000.

A few hours after the announcement of Hanke’s arrest, the EPFD released the following statement:

A member of the El Paso Fire Department has been arrested in connection to an animal cruelty investigation. The City of El Paso and Fire Department do not condone this type of behavior and take this allegation seriously. This is an ongoing investigation and the El Paso Police Department should be contacted for any further information. The individual is currently on Administrative Leave pending the investigation.

Mario D’Agostino. EPFD Fire Chief

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