NEW YORK – Police say they’ve collared the man they believe administered a fatal beating to a peacock because he thought it was a vampire.
Police sources told the Staten Island Advance that cops arrested John N. Potts, 32, in connection with the attack.
The peacock had wandered into the parking lot of a Burger King on Staten Island last Thursday, and jumped onto the hood of a car.
That’s when the 5-foot-6-inch, 135-pound Potts showed up, cops say. According to witnesses, he grabbed the helpless bird by its neck, threw it to the ground, and stomped and kicked it repeatedly. He yelled, “I’m killing a vampire!” and ripped off his shirt during the attack, witnesses said. The mortally injured peacock had to be put down.
Potts was picked up at about 7 p.m. Sunday after he sparked a domestic disturbance at his stepfather’s house, capping a wild weekend for a man described by one source as emotionally disturbed.
Sources said he quarreled with his stepfather, menaced him with a shovel and said, “I’ll smash your face.”
He then jumped into the waters of nearby Raritan Bay, the shovel still in his hands, a police source said.
Arriving cops coaxed Potts out of the water, the source said, and as they investigated, determined that Potts was involved in the attack on the peacock. A witness to the assault identified Potts, the source said.
But Potts, it turns out, had two other run-ins with police since the peacock pummeling. On Friday, police arrested Potts for trespassing, after he entered the property of one of his stepfather’s neighbors, the source said. He spent the night in jail and was released after a court appearance Saturday, the source said.
Sunday morning, he was back in trouble again – cops issued him a summons after catching him with marijuana, the source said. Later he went to his stepfather’s house and initiated the disturbance that ended with his dip in the bay with a shovel, according to the source.
Potts faces charges of menacing and criminal possession of a weapon for the shovel incident, and aggravated animal cruelty and torturing and injuring an animal.
Felicia Finnegan, a 19-year-old Burger King employee who witnessed the attack when she went out to feed bread to the bird, said she was relieved about Potts’ capture.
“I’m very happy that they caught him. A lot of people had been seeing him around, doing all kinds of crazy things,” she said. “I think he should definitely go to jail and probably get evaluated. He’s a sick person.”
She added, “I feel better knowing that they caught him, and that he won’t do something like that again, or something worse.”
Finnegan said she was surprised by the worldwide attention the story has gotten, adding that people have looked up her MySpace.com account to offer her condolences.
“People are e-mailing me from Seattle and Florida,” she said.
RB END ANNESE
(John Annese is a news reporter for the Staten Island Advance. He may be reached at annese(at)siadvance.com.)