Man out for morning walk shoots charging dog

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GULF COVE, FL. - A man out for his morning walk shot and killed a dog he says charged him Tuesday morning, deputies say.

According to the Charlotte County Sheriff's Office, deputies responded to the area of Gillot Boulevard and Holton Terrace in the Gulf Cove area of Port Charlotte at 11am Tuesday.  A witness told deputies he saw the entire incident in the area.

Deputies met with 63-year-old Frank Gross, who lives several blocks away on Flemming Street.  He says he was out for his usual 5-mile walk and that two large boxer dogs were let out of the home in the 5400 block of Holton Terrace and were not on leashes. 

Gross said he was across the street and the two dogs came charging towards him. He said he yelled for the dogs to get back, but they kept coming. Fearing for his safety, Gross told deputies he reached into his fanny pack and withdrew a .22 caliber pistol and fired one shot killing one of the dogs; the second dog fled.

The dog's owner, 28-year-old Michael Bustamante, confirmed he let “Astro”, a 2½ year old 65-pound boxer and “Libby” a 4-year-old 60 pound boxer, outside without leashes to “do their business in the yard.”  He said his dogs often wandered from the yard, but were friendly and would never attack or hurt anyone.

"I heard a pop sound. I had no idea what it was. As soon as I stopped outside, I saw a gentleman on the road, pointing a weapon toward my dog. When I saw my dog, he was twitching on the ground."

Bustamante says Astro was "the friendliest dog you will ever meet," and cannot understand why Gross would shoot him.  "He was my buddy," said Bustamante. "Why would you pull out a gun? Why wouldn't you try pushing or kicking it away?

A witness told deputies that he saw the dogs charging across the street towards the man and saw him pull out a gun and shoot at the dogs that were barking and charging at him. Astro was about a foot away from where Gross was standing when shot.

Gross had a valid concealed weapons carrying permit and Animal Control declined to issue a citation as Bustamante had suffered a loss.

The sheriff’s office is reporting that the case is closed.

ABC 7 reached out to Gross for a comment at his home, he said he was not interested in speaking with us.