Teens held hostage, attacked by Albuquerque pet store employees
Posted at: 10/02/2012 8:27 PM
By: Jill Galus, KOB Eyewitness News 4
Two teenagers told police they went into Fins and Critters Pet Store at Eubank and Lomas to simply look into buying a turtle but instead, were attacked by store employees who were convinced the teens had previously stolen a ferret.
"C'mon guys, right, it's a ferret," John Stephens said. But the pricey pet goes for $180 at Fins and Critters Pet Store.
Police arrested owner Franciso Matteson and his two employees, William Jones and Tony Chapa.
The employees told police they wanted payback when two teenagers, who they believe stole a ferret a few months ago, returned Monday, and this time, to see a turtle.
According to a criminal complaint, Jones and Chapa held the teens hostage and locked them in the shop.
One was allegedly beat up, strangled and dragged throughout the store.
The other told police that Chapa threatened to cut his fingers off or kill him if he moved.
"It's very surprising to me to hear something that disturbing, and that he would take the law into his own hands and hit someone over an animal," said Thelma Hilliard, a frequent customer.
Hilliard said she has purchased everything from rabbits to hamsters from Matteson, adding he has always been friendly.
"I think it's unfortunate, but I can't say that I'm going to stop coming to the store because my kids like the store," Hilliard said.
Fins and Critters Pet Store managers declined to comment Monday.
"That was kinda bizarre," Stephens said. "Super extreme, you know, it's just kinda stupid."
According to the criminal complaint, Chapa denied any wrongdoing, blaming it on Jones, who told police he simply detained the teens because he thought they were about to steal a turtle.
Meanwhile, Matteson said he did not arrive at the store until after the alleged encounter.