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Investigators identify man wanted in animal shelter break-in

Sheriff’s officials have identified a man who allegedly vandalized an animal shelter in Jurupa Valley and released dozens of dogs, resulting in the death of four.

Riverside County Sheriff’s detectives issued an arrest warrant Wednesday for Jason Ernest Johnson, 42, of Riverside. He is wanted in connection with the case of vandalism, burglary and animal cruelty.

Johnson, who authorities said is on probation for drug-related offenses, may have fled north to Fresno or east to Las Vegas, sheriff’s deputies said.

Sheriff’s detectives said a man they believe is Johnson broke into the Western Riverside County Animal Shelter to steal three dogs that were held in quarantine, sheriff’s Capt. Jason Horton told reporters at a news conference Wednesday. The dogs still are missing.

It is unclear whether Johnson owned the dogs.

Johnson likely released the other dogs to distract authorities from investigating the theft of the three, sheriff’s officials said.

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Two of the released dogs were found dead on the property and two others were hit by motorists. Seven dogs remain missing.

About 6:30 a.m. Sunday, an employee found the shelter in disarray and noticed dozens of dogs loose on the property. The locks on about 22 outdoor kennels had been broken.

Blood spatter was found on the wall and floors.

With the help of two witnesses, authorities used surveillance camera footage from the shelter to identify their suspect. The video showed a man wearing dark clothing inside the shelter during the break-in.

Several local animal welfare organizations are offering a $20,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction. The Humane Society of the United States offered a $5,000 reward.

Johnson, who authorities said is also known as Jason Neunzer, is possibly driving a 2006 white Dodge Ram pickup, license plate 00064R1.

Anyone with details about Johnson’s whereabouts is urged to detectives at (951) 955-2600.

For breaking news in California, follow @VeronicaRochaLA.

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