Five people have been arrested in connection with the violent kidnapping of Lady Gaga's dogs earlier this year, the Los Angeles Police Department announced on Thursday.
The arrests were made on Tuesday, nearly two months to the day after the singer's dog walker was shot by assailants who demanded he hand over her three French bulldogs and eventually fled the scene with two of them. The dog walker is recovering from critical injuries, and the dogs were returned to authorities two days later by a woman who said she had found them, though police would not specify where.
"This was a brazen street crime that left a man seriously wounded," said Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón, in a separate statement announcing the charges. "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 suspects range in age from 18 to 50 years old, and all appear to be connected to each other. Four of them are documented gang members in Los Angeles, according to police.
Police said James Jackson, Jaylin White and Lafayette Whaley were involved in the robbery and shooting and have been arrested on charges of attempted murder. The other two, Harold White and Jennifer McBride, were determined to be accessories to the initial crime and each face one charge of accessory to attempted murder. McBride was the woman who returned the stolen dogs, police confirmed.
"She ultimately brought the dogs to LAPD Olympic Station," they said. "Detectives were able to establish McBride had a relationship with the father of one of the suspects, Harold White."
The dog walker, who has since been identified as Ryan Fischer, survived the shooting and has discussed his ongoing recovery in several social media posts. He revealed in March that his lung collapsed after he was initially discharged from the hospital and that he eventually needed to have portions of it removed.
He also shared details on Instagram about the night of the shooting.
As police have described, he was walking the three dogs in the area of Sierra Bonita Ave. and Sunset Blvd. just before 10 p.m. local time when two suspects approach him in a four-door sedan.
The men exited the car, demanded the dogs at gunpoint and "struggled" with Fischer before shooting him once. They drove off with two of the bulldogs, named Koji and Gustav, and left Fischer and the third dog behind.
"[Four] days ago, while a car sped away and blood poured from my gun shot wound, an angel trotted over and laid next to me," Fischer wrote in March. "My panicked screams calmed as I looked at her, even though it registered that the blood pooling around her tiny body was my own. I cradled Asia as best I could, thanked her for all the incredible adventures we'd been on together, apologized that I couldn't defend her brothers, and then resolved that I would still try to save them ... and myself."
He went on to describe his experience as "a very close call with death" and expressed his gratitude for the support he had received and the fact that the dogs had been safely returned.
My beloved dogs Koji and Gustav were taken in Hollywood two nights ago. My heart is sick and I am praying my family will be whole again with an act of kindness. I will pay $500,000 for their safe return. Email KojiandGustav@gmail.com to contact us. pic.twitter.com/3NY9u7Mw2K— Lady Gaga (@ladygaga) February 26, 2021
Lady Gaga called Fischer "forever a hero," tweeting at the time that he had risked his life "to fight for our family."
Police said Thursday that they don't necessarily think the dogs were sought after because they belong to the world-famous songstress.
"Detectives do not believe the suspects were targeting the victim because of the dogs' owner," authorities said. "However, evidence suggests the suspects knew the great value of the breed of dogs and was the motivation for the robbery."
French bulldogs rank high on the list of the most popular and expensive dog breeds and can sell for $4,000 on average.
Lady Gaga offered $500,000 in February for their safe return; police were not able to confirm whether that reward was actually given. In their statement, authorities said McBride had "reported that she found the dogs and responded to the reward email" to return them.
Her alleged role in the dognapping stands in stark contrast to earlier LAPD statements: Capt. Jonathan Tippet told the Associated Press in February that the then-unnamed woman who dropped the dogs off at the police station appeared to be "uninvolved and unassociated" with the robbery.
Police said the case was presented to the major crimes division of the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office on Thursday for filing consideration. It is not immediately clear whether any of the individuals have legal representation.
The district attorney's office laid out the charges against them in a press release of its own.
Jackson, Whaley and Jaylin White were charged with one count each of attempted murder, conspiracy to commit robbery and second-degree robbery, it said. Jackson also faces one count of assault with a semiautomatic firearm and a felon carrying a concealed firearm in a vehicle. White faces an additional count of assault by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury.
McBride and Harold White were charged with one count of accessory after the fact, the office said. McBride faces another count of receiving stolen property, and White was also charged with one count of possession of a firearm.