Police were initially called to North Sierra Bonita Avenue – a street off Sunset Boulevard – at about 9.40pm on Wednesday following several 911 calls reporting a man screaming and the sound of a gunshot, Captain Steven Lurie, commanding officer of the Los Angeles police department’s Hollywood division, told the Associated Press. The dog walker tried to fight them off and was shot by one of the men wielding a semiautomatic handgun during the struggle. ABC broadcast footage that appeared to show the victim cradling a dog – thought to be Miss Asia – as he was getting treated on the pavement.
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Another man is later seen removing the dog from the victim’s arms to comfort it. Having escaped the attack, Miss Asia was taken to LAPD’s headquarters and retrieved by one of the singer’s bodyguards.
It was initially believed there were two attackers, but the LAPD police said on Thursday afternoon that they were hunting for a single shooter who fled in a white vehicle. No arrests have been made.Gaga, who is currently in Rome working on the Ridley Scott film Gucci, “is offering $500,000 [£353,000] to anyone who has her two dogs, no questions asked”, a source told CNN. The source also provided an email address – [email protected] – for anyone with information to contact.
A representative for CAA, the agency which represents Lady Gaga , did not immediately respond to the Guardian’s request for comment. The Oscar and Grammy-winning singer, whose real name is Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, regularly shares pictures of her dogs online. Miss Asia has her own Instagram account, featuring pictures in costume, on the red carpet and with Father Christmas. The french bulldog is a popular breed, and puppies can cost several thousand dollars. In recent years there has been a growing trend in the US of the dogs being stolen for resale and breeding. According to the American Kennel Club they are the fourth most popular dog breed in the country, behind behind labradors, golden retrievers and german shepherds.
Capt Jonathan Tippett, commanding officer of the LA police’s elite robbery-homicide division, said it was not yet clear if the dog walker was targeted because of his celebrity client. Tara Bruno, founder of Snort Rescue, told People that the small size of french bulldogs made them particularly attractive to would-be thieves. “The motive is resale. Thieves know they can get a couple thousand dollars for them,” Bruno said. Gaga, whose recent performances included singing the national anthem at Joe Biden’s inauguration last month, is known to be fiercely protective of her pets. Her father, Joe Germanotta, toldFox News: “Our whole family is upset and praying Koji and Gustavo are not harmed. Shooting someone in order to steal dogs is wrong.”
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Germanotta then pleaded to the public to help “catch these creeps”.