A man has been arrested after being accused of killing three animals and throwing them into a garbage can.
On Monday, the Lee County Sheriff’s Office responded to the 4500 block of 27th Street SW in Lehigh Acres after receiving a call about animal abuse.
A witness said she found Jose Luis Ortiz, 46, covered in blood and cleaning the remains of a duck off the back patio. She said she approached him and he became violent and started strangling one of his dogs.
Ortiz then grabbed a garden hose and began to drown the animal, according to the witness. She immediately grabbed his other dog and ran to a neighbor’s house to call 911.
Deputies say they saw Ortiz’s back patio was soaking wet, and during their search, found a dead dog, duck, and cat inside a trashcan.
Detectives say Ortiz drowned two animals and bludgeoned the third.
He faces three counts of aggravated animal cruelty and remains in the Lee County Jail on $50,000 bail.
His neighbors don’t understand how someone could do this. They said they knew Ortiz well and they feared he was on a downward spiral. A neighbor who didn’t want to go on camera said Ortiz had changed drastically over the past six months. Within the last few days, she saw Ortiz talking to the sprinklers outside while laughing, she said.
But at the end of the day, they all agree that what he’s accused of doing is cruel.
“It’s not like him. There’s something wrong. He’s got to be sick,” said another neighbor, Maria Corsentino.
“He loved his dogs. Could he have caught something? A germ?”
Neighbors said Ortiz stopped coming out of his house, stopped working and lost a significant amount of weight in the last few months. One said Ortiz’s wife had tried to Baker Act him but was unsuccessful.
The sheriff’s office said Tuesday afternoon that Ortiz “has provided a couple of different aliases to law enforcement. Jose Luis Ortiz (06/21/1974) and Fernando Ortiz (08/23/1973) is the same person. Detectives are actively working to positively identify him.”