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‘He probably suffered’: Peacock found dead after Craigslist ad

A peacock
A Humboldt County resident says Azul, a peacock that visited her neighborhood over the last six years, was recently found dead.
(Melissa Glass )

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Wednesday, July 7. I’m Justin Ray.

My colleague Jaclyn Cosgrove discussed peacocks last month. But I heard about a startling incident that merits another visit to the subject: A Humboldt County resident says a peacock that visited her neighborhood over the last six years was found dead recently after a Craigslist post called for the killing of the bird.

Melissa Glass told me the peacock — who was known as Mr. P, or Azul — first came into her life on her birthday years ago. “He literally showed up out of the blue one day,” she says. “He’s just been part of our life” ever since.

The peacock would spend a lot of time at Glass’ home in McKinleyville’s Azalea Heights neighborhood because she owns chickens and he liked being around other birds.

He was appreciated by many in the community. Glass says people would bring their kids to see him and take photos.

“He drops his feathers every fall. So I have an amazing stock of feathers I’d give to the kids,” she says. “Even the UPS guys would stop and take pictures.” She also recently discovered he was getting cookies and French bread from neighbors: “He was working the scene. He knew he was charming.”

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Then, everything changed.

Glass says a “visibly upset” neighbor knocked on her door June 30 and told her the peacock was dead. Her husband went into a neighbor’s yard to retrieve the bloody body and he saw what he believed was a gunshot wound.

“It’s really sad because he probably suffered for at least two or three hours before he died, possibly more,” Glass said.

A peacock showing its feathers
“He’s just been part of our life,” Melissa Glass says of Azul, the peacock that was killed.
(Melissa Glass)

Conversations with neighbors and digital sleuthing revealed an online post that was made weeks ago. “One of the neighbor’s daughters had actually recalled seeing a Craigslist ad in search of a peacock assassin,” Glass says. The daughter took screenshots of the posting, which Glass viewed and was first reported by Lost Coast Outpost.

Glass says she suspects the person behind the post is someone the couple had a falling out with.

Peacocks are not protected by California Fish and Game laws, and the agency said the incident doesn’t meet the criteria of a poaching incident. But a Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson said deputies are investigating.

“A potential suspect has been identified by deputies and a search warrant was served at a residence on Hewitt Road in relation to the investigation,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “No arrests have been made at this time. The crimes currently being investigated are animal cruelty and conspiracy to commit a crime.“

“If it was some old codger in the senior park with a gun, I would be upset and angry. But this feels so much more personal because of the prior history, you know?” Glass said.

Here’s more information about the state’s history with peacocks.

And now, here’s what’s happening across California:

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Guns in California

California saw a record increase in the sale of handguns last year, and the number of long-gun purchases was higher than it has been in four years, according to data from the state attorney general.

Nearly 1.17 million new firearms were registered in the state in 2020, with handgun sales up 65.5% from the year before. The number of long-gun purchases jumped 45.9% from 2019.

Statewide, there were 2,202 homicides reported in 2020, according to a separate report from the state’s Department of Justice. State Atty. Gen. Rob Bonta said the vast majority of the homicides involved guns.

“While violent crime rates are still well below their historical highs in the early ‘90s, the increases we’ve seen during this pandemic are unacceptable,” Bonta said. “In California and across the country, gun violence in particular continues to be a uniquely American health crisis.” Los Angeles Times

L.A. STORIES

Members of an MS-13 clique in Los Angeles turned an abandoned building into a place to sleep, party and peddle drugs. The building, in the gang’s parlance, had become a “destroyer.” It was also a place to kill. Three people were slain within its blighted rooms in 2017 and 2018, LAPD officers testified at a hearing last month. There is no count of how many destroyers pockmark the city on a given day. Several have been found in the Los Angeles neighborhoods that MS-13 considers its turf — where the churn of gentrification and neglect from absentee owners give rise to a crop of buildings abandoned or marked for demolition. Los Angeles Times

A new essay explores how the once-great Los Angeles alternative press generated dynamic reporting. The reduction of the local press has meant less government and corporate accountability, Danny Feingold writes. But that’s not all: “The decline of the alternative press in the nation’s second largest city has exacted a high price, depriving Angelenos of news, narratives and analysis often missing in the mainstream media.” Capital and Main

By now you have probably heard ESPN reporter Rachel Nichols’ comments on a private phone call about losing an opportunity to Maria Taylor, a Black colleague. Nichols is white. It is worth noting that one person on the call was Adam Mendelsohn, an advisor to Lakers superstars LeBron James and Anthony Davis. “I’m exhausted. Between #MeToo and Black Lives Matter, I got nothing left.” Nichols told CNBC: “I made a stupid, careless comment rooted in privilege and I am sincerely sorry.” ESPN announced Tuesday that Malika Andrews, not Nichols, will serve as the sideline reporter for this year’s NBA Finals. CNBC

Chris Brown, a standout lineman from USC and Loyola High, died last month at the age of 24. In a new profile, Times USC beat writer Ryan Kartje explains how after Brown’s football career, he landed a commercial real estate job and sought out a career in music. “He poured his extra time into music, jotting down lyrics in journals,” Kartje writes. “His friends find the journals.... It’s a happy discovery. Leafing through the pages feels like a window into Chris they’d never seen before.” Los Angeles Times

Offensive lineman Chris Brown
USC guard Chris Brown is shown in the first half during an NCAA college football game against Arizona in 2018.
(Associated Press)

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POLITICS AND GOVERNMENT

Feinstein’s recall history offers a lesson for those aiming at Newsom. Times columnist Mark Z. Barabak has an interesting take on California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Gov. Gavin Newsom’s political troubles. Barabak argues that Feinstein benefited from an attempted recall, which failed in spectacular fashion and “totally transformed her career,” in the words of a Democratic strategist. “There are enough similarities to inform the strategy of Newsom as the governor seeks to survive a threatened recall and to give a warning to Republicans,” Barabak writes. Los Angeles Times

CRIME AND COURTS

The May 26 San Jose rail yard massacre left the community with several questions, among them: Were there any red flags? What we now know is customs agents reportedly found terrorist literature and notes detailing hatred for the Valley Transportation Authority among shooter Samuel Cassidy’s possessions. We also know from internal VTA emails released earlier this month that he had five run-ins with management. The Columbian

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HEALTH AND THE ENVIRONMENT

Lost to the fire. Tessa Love pens an article for the Believer in which Californians reflect on how wildfires have affected their lives. One woman says she lost poetry written by her father who passed away when she was young. An Army veteran lost his home and prized bagpipes. Another resident explained how her father played in a country band, but now his reels of recording sessions, posters and archives are all destroyed. The Believer

‘It was insane, it was awesome.’ Ecologists could have spent at least $1 million to restore a dried-out Placer County floodplain that looked like a fire risk. Instead, they went with a natural option: beavers. The animals built dams that retained water and revived the area faster than anticipated. “It went from dry grassland ... to totally revegetated, trees popping up, willows, wetland plants of all types, different meandering stream channels across about 60 acres of floodplain,” said Lynnette Batt, conservation director of the Placer Land Trust. Sacramento Bee

Delta variant rises. The highly contagious Delta variant is causing increases in new coronavirus cases and hospitalizations in California. While those who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 are believed to have high levels of protection, more people who have not been vaccinated are getting sick, data show. Nationwide, the variant makes up 25% of analyzed coronavirus cases, the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. Times reporter Deborah Netburn recently explained everything you should know about what the Delta variant means for unvaccinated kids. Los Angeles Times

CALIFORNIA CULTURE

Student project wins big. A company that began as a Cal Poly student senior project just sold for $240 million. Students at the college teamed up with San Luis Obispo biomedical entrepreneurs to create a device, called the Jada system, that helps stop potentially fatal bleeding in women after birth. San Luis Obispo Tribune

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CALIFORNIA ALMANAC

Los Angeles: Super sunny, 85. San Diego: Lukewarm, 75. San Francisco: Light sweater weather, 66. San Jose: Nice breezes, 76. Fresno: Pretty hot, 101. Sacramento: Pretty warm, 95.

AND FINALLY

Today’s California memory is from Martin Nelson:

Listening to steam trains switching in the East Bay Area, smelling Folgers coffee from the San Francisco plant, waiting for the horse-drawn Union Ice wagon and bottles of milk delivered to the front door ... all memories of growing up in San Leandro in the 1940s and ‘50s. Then graduating from Cal and living all over the state until now retiring in Nicaragua. Summers at Santa Cruz, swimming at Oakland’s Lake Temescal, YMCA camp ... Scouts and camping in Yosemite. Third generation and still deep roots in the most Golden State.

If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. (Please keep your story to 100 words.)

Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments to essentialcalifornia@latimes.com.


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