WOODHAVEN, Mich. (WJBK) - Two teenagers have been charged with animal cruelty after authorities say they killed a guinea pig before a Detroit-area high school lacrosse game.
The Wayne County prosecutor's office says 18-year-old Tanner Coolsaet and 17-year-old Michael Roth have each been charged with one count of Animals -Killing/Torturing, and one count of Conspiracy to Commit Killing/Torturing of Animals. Both charges are felonies are carry a maximum four-year penalty. They are expected to be arraigned Monday morning.
Authorities allege that Coolsaet and Roth, who were members of the Grosse Ile High School varsity lacrosse team, took part in a pre-game ritual of sorts. Authorities allege Coolsaet had a knife and slit the guinea pig’s throat, and that Roth grabbed the guinea pig and struck it with a small bat. The animal died shortly thereafter.
"The alleged facts in this case illustrate much more than a youthful prank or a pre-game antic. We must take these cases seriously," Prosecutor Worthy said in the news release.
Sources had told FOX 2 the team members performed the deed as a "bonding" attempt before the game against the Dexter Deadnoughts on April 30, which the Grosse Ile Red Devils lost 13-6. Sources also told us the players painted themselves in the animal's blood.
"Witnesses observed Roth carrying guinea pig down to beachfront, once at the beachfront, Coolsaet grabbed the pig, placed blade of knife to pig's neck and backed off saying he couldn't do it after the pig started squealing," said Det. Eric Vazquez of the Grosse Ile Police Department.
Witnesses say Roth grabbed the animal, hit it and stabbed the pig to put it out of its misery. Witnesses then observed Coolsaet throwng the pig in the river and then throw mulch over blood left on picnic table.
As the teens left the courthouse, Fox 2 approached two adults that were leaving with the teens and one person tried to block any questions.
"I don't care.. No physicals."
But those who know the teens had plenty to say
"That doesn't seem like them at all," said Holden Green, a senior. "It doesn't seem like they would do Anything like that."
The teens' lacrosse coach says lacrosse has been canceled at the school pending an investigation.
"Tanner's been my captain for three years," said lacrosse Coach Butch Ryan. "I wouldn't expect this."
Ryan says he has coached for more than a decade and has never had players involved in any incident like this. He also has this message for the teens:
"They let a lot of people down," he said. "Team, school, parents."
Both teens received a $5,000 personal bond and were told not to consume alcohol or drugs and to not purchase animals or acquire pets.
Grosse Ile Township police have said it didn't happen on school grounds. The team was kept off the field as authorities investigated.
Their next court date is scheduled for July 26.
WEB UPDATE: After story deadline, Grosse Ile Township Schools released a statement on the situation by Superintendent Joanne Lelekatch:
"Now that law enforcement has completed its investigation, we will be in a position to assess the facts and circumstances and if necessary, apply our student handbooks.
"We trust the criminal justice system to determine what exactly occurred and whether there is an appropriate consequence which should be assigned criminally to individuals involved. We will follow up with our own investigation and determine appropriate consequences for any students enrolled in the District. That said, we respect the privacy of our students and will not make any further statements at this time."
The Associated Press contributed to this report