Zionsville man who shot pet tortoise charged with criminal mischief


A Zionsville man who shot and killed a neighbor’s pet tortoise that wandered onto his property Aug. 31 has been charged with one count of criminal mischief for his actions.

The Boone County Sheriff’s Office investigated the incident and concluded that Brandt Lawson “recklessly, knowingly or intentionally destroyed” the tortoise, a 16-year-old sulcata named Merlin, without the consent of its owner, Tasha Chapel.

Boone County Sheriff Mike Nielsen said his department is committed to protecting the lives of humans and animals.

“This is an unfortunate circumstance with Merlin, because he is not considered a domestic animal by state law. When we found out what occurred we immediately began an investigation with our animal control liaison,” Nielsen stated in a press release. “This is just another example of why we have been working so hard for the last year on getting the proper county animal control ordinance in place as well as the funding for a full time animal control officer.”

The Indiana Board of Animal Health, Indiana Dept. of Natural Resources, Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office Humane Law Enforcement Division and Boone County Prosecutor’s Office assisted in the investigation.

Chapel has started a Facebook page to share Merlin’s story called Justice for Merlin. As of Sept. 19 it had more than 2,600 followers.