LOS ANGELES — Three reputed gang members were charged Thursday with attempted murder in connection with the shooting of Lady Gaga's dog walker and the theft of two of the singer's French bulldogs, while two other people — including a woman who claimed to have found the animals — are charged with being accessories after the fact.
Los Angeles police said detectives do not believe the victim was targeted because of the dogs' owner, but suspect that the great value of the breed was known and was the motivation for the robbery.
Police have seen an uptick in the theft of French bulldogs, which have topped the American Kennel Club's list of the most popular dog breeds in Los Angeles for several years straight.
In a written statement, Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón called it "a brazen street crime that left a man seriously wounded."
"We have alleged very serious charges in this case and have faith that justice will be appropriately served as this case unfolds in court," the county's top prosecutor said.
During a late-afternoon appearance in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom, James Howard Jackson, 18, Jaylin Keyshawn White, 19, and Lafayette Shon Whaley, 27, pleaded not guilty to one count each of attempted murder, second-degree robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery.
Jackson — the alleged gunman — is also charged with one count each of assault with a semiautomatic firearm and felon carrying a concealed firearm in a vehicle, while White is also facing one count of assault by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury.
The three, described by Los Angeles police as "documented gang members" from Los Angeles, allegedly approached Lady Gaga's longtime dog walker, Ryan Fischer, while he was walking three of the singer's dogs in the 1500 block of North Sierra Bonita Avenue, near Sunset Boulevard on Feb. 24.
Surveillance video from a home security system shows Fischer walking on the sidewalk when a white sedan pulls up and stops in the street, with two people jumping from the back seat and saying, "Give it up."
A struggle ensues, and one gunshot can be heard, prompting Fischer to fall to the ground, screaming. The assailants each grabbed one dog — named Koji and Gustav — and got back into the rear seat of the car, leaving Fischer on the ground yelling for help.
The singer's other bulldog, Miss Asia, is seen on the video running back to Fischer on the ground after the assailants' vehicle disappears from view.
Jennifer McBride — who, according to police, reported that she found the dogs and responded to a reward email to return them — was charged with one count each of being an accessory after the fact and receiving stolen property.
The 50-year-old woman, who brought the dogs to the Los Angeles Police Department's Olympic Division, allegedly had a relationship with Harold White, the 40-year-old father of one of the suspects, according to police.
Harold White, described by police as a documented gang member, is charged with one count each of being an accessory after the fact and possession of a firearm with an enumerated prior conviction involving a firearm, according to the District Attorney's Office.
McBride and Harold White also pleaded not guilty.
All five defendants were ordered to return to court May 11 for a hearing to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to allow the case against them to proceed to trial.
They were arrested within a three-hour period Tuesday morning by officers from the LAPD's South Bureau Homicide, Metropolitan Division and Newton Division and have remained behind bars since then.
At the court hearing, Jackson was ordered to be held on $3 million bail, while bail for Jaylin White and Whaley was set at $1 million each. McBride's bail was set at $10,000 and she was ordered to submit to electronic monitoring and house arrest under which she will be allowed to go to work, while Harold White's bail was set at $35,000.
Lady Gaga, who was in Italy filming a movie, had offered a $500,000 reward for her pets' safe return and praised Fischer, saying he risked his life "to fight for our family. You're forever a hero."
In a March 30 Instagram post, Fischer said he had been recovering well from the shooting when his lung collapsed and he had to have emergency surgery.