On Tuesday, May 16, 2023, Corporal Steven Struble, a member of the Marion County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) Agricultural Unit, arrested 14-year-old Michael Morgan for Aggravated Animal Cruelty, which is a felony offense.

On Monday, May 15, 2023, Corporal Struble and Marion County Animal Services Compliance Investigator Justin McClure responded to Morgan’s home to investigate a report of animal cruelty. Corporal Struble had received an anonymous complaint that Morgan shot his family’s dog with a BB gun and posted a video of the incident to Snapchat. Upon arrival at Morgan’s home, Corporal Struble and Investigator McClure made contact with one of Morgan’s guardians, who allowed them to examine the family’s dogs. A female mixed-breed dog named “Autumn” appeared to be the dog shown in the video of the incident and two embedded BBs were felt under her skin.

Corporal Struble then made contact with Morgan, who was read his Miranda rights and agreed to speak about the incident. His guardian also consented to the interview. Morgan admitted to shooting Autumn multiple times with a BB gun while she was “just sitting on the porch and not showing any aggression.” Autumn was released to Marion County Animal Services and taken to UF Pet Emergency Treatment Services, in Ocala, for a veterinarian examination. The veterinarian located a total of four BBs embedded in Autumn’s skin and determined that Autumn experienced excessive infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering as a result of being shot.

Morgan was placed under arrest and transported to the Marion County Jail, processed, and released to his father.

We know it is going to be asked, so here is why we choose to release information about some juveniles.

1. Florida Statute s. 985.04(2) provides that when a juvenile is taken into custody by a law enforcement officer or charged with a violation of the law which, if committed by an adult, would be a felony, the juvenile’s name, photograph, address, and crime/arrest report are not confidential under Florida law merely because the person is a juvenile.

2. If you are a parent, you deserve to know who your kids are hanging out with. You may know their friends and acquaintances by sight, but you may not know their names. We hope that parents who see these posts on our Facebook page can use the information they find here to help their kids make good choices about the people with whom they are associating. If one of their friends shows up here as having committed a serious crime, we hope that parents encourage their children to make that person a “former friend.”

3. We believe our community deserves to know when juveniles are apprehended for committing serious crimes. If the kid two or three houses down from you is taken into custody for committing a serious crime, that is something you may want to know so you are more aware of your surroundings and able to take appropriate action to protect yourself, your family, and your property.

If you are wondering why Florida Statute s. 985.04(2) refers to a “violation of the law which, if committed by an adult would be a felony…”, that is because when juveniles violate Florida’s criminal laws, the law refers to their actions as a “delinquent act,” whereas the same act committed by an adult would be referred to as a “crime” (and either a misdemeanor or a felony.)

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