Friday, January 13, 2017

New York: Convicted felon James Cruz's mommy and friend rush to his defense after police say he turned his pit bull loose on his girlfriend during an argument. Friend Erica Kowalski says it's a cover-up by police because "there was no reason for that many bullets"

NEW YORK -- The mother of a Rochester man accused of ordering his pit bull off on his girlfriend is sharing his side of the story.

In the early morning hours of November 30, Carmen Almonte said she was awoken by her son, James Cruz’ screams, as a friend’s dog Cruz had been taking care of began attacking his wife.


“He woke me up screaming, 'please help me mom, call 911, mom, please call 911,’” Almonte said. “I said ‘what happened?’ He said ‘the dog is biting Maria!’ He said ‘I told her to stay in. She just went out. She just went out!’”

You see how this narrative reads? It's HER fault, according to them.

When Rochester police officers arrived to Rockview Terrace, they say they found 33-year-old Maria Schaffer lying on the ground unclothed and the large pit bull wouldn’t let go of her.

Officers said Cruz was yelling to shoot the dog because it couldn’t be controlled.

Jamie Cruz (aka James Cruz) with the pit bull that
tried to kill Maria Schaffer

That’s when officers shot and killed the dog. One of the bullets did go astray, striking Cruz in the abdomen.

On Saturday, Cruz pleaded not guilty to assault in the first and second degree.

This comes after police say he intentionally set the dog on Schaffer after a domestic dispute.

A witness said she was by this pile of leaves, so
exhausted that she wasn't even struggling or screaming
any longer while the pit bull was "chewing on her"

However, Almonte and Cruz’ best friend Erica Kowalski said it’s all been a misunderstanding.

“It is not his dog,” Kowalski said. “He has not owned the dog. He only had the dog for about two weeks, so he didn’t trust the dog. He would not let anyone in the house if the dog was out of the cage.”


Although Schaffer and her family declined to comment, Almonte said Schaffer was in the bedroom and Cruz told her to stay in there because he was taking the dog out of its cage for a walk in the backyard.

They said for some reason Shaffer came out of the bedroom and that's when the dog attacked her.

“It makes me feel angry that they accused him of something that he didn’t do,” Almonte said. “As a mother, I know he didn’t.”


“I think it’s a cover up because they know they did wrong,” Kowalski said. “There was no reason for that many bullets. I mean her [Almonte’s] house has seven bullets in it. She sat in that window right there as those five bullets came past her head. The kid’s room is up there, and that is where one of the bullets went.”

Almonte and Kowalski said after the incident they found out the dog had bitten several people in the past. They also said Schaffer did not live in the home and was just visiting.

Almonte said Cruz is suffering from a severe infection in his liver from the bullet.


Since he has been convicted of felonies in the past, he could face a minimum of eight years to a maximum of 25 years in prison.

Police say Schaffer underwent at least 10 surgeries and is still recovering in the hospital.

Clarifications: In previous reports, police have characterized the relationship of Maria Schaffer and James Cruz as an on-again-off-again relationship. The defendant’s mother told Time Warner Cable News in a recent interview the couple was married.


(TWC News - Jan 12, 2017)


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