Councilwoman applauds cameras installed at Richmond park where dog ‘Tommie’ was burned


RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Surveillance cameras have been installed in a Richmond park where beloved dog “Tommie” was set on fire and abandoned. He died shortly after. 

The brindle pit bull was tied to a pole, covered in accelerant and intentionally set on fire in the park located on West Clay Street at about 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 10. 

Councilwoman Kim Gray (2nd District) told 8News on Tuesday the cameras cover all of Abner Clay Park. 

“I feel much safer as a mom, and I feel much safer as a resident in the area,” Gray said. “We’ve had a lot of struggles here with drug activity, with prostitution, with violence and robberies and it stands as a good deterrent to crime.” 

Police on Monday said they made an arrest in the animal cruelty case. Jyahshua A. Hill, 20, of the 1300 block of St. Peter Street, was arrested without incident shortly before 3 p.m. Monday by members of the U.S. Marshals Regional Fugitive Task Force.

The February incident sparked widespread outrage. Investigators are crediting an outpouring of information and assistance from the general public that helped them solve this crime. 

“There are a lot of people to thank, but I’d like to single out all the citizens who contributed tips that pointed us in the right direction,” said Interim Police Chief William C. Smith said in a release. “That, plus the excellent job done by arson investigators who did the bulk of the work, major crimes detectives, forensics technicians and animal control officers who all built a strong case to present to the grand jury.”

The director of Richmond Animal Care and Control told 8News on Monday that in her 15 years of working with animals, Tommie’s case of animal cruelty is by far the worst. 

“It’s the most evil, I would say, there’s an element of evil and a sadness that have overtaken all of the other cases we’ve dealt with,” RACC Director Christie Peters said. “They said that it’s an unbelievable case. That they’ve had more people from the community rally around this case than they have seen in a very long time.” 

RELATED: River City Roll to unveil tribute mural of beloved pit bull ‘Tommie’

Hill was indicted by a grand jury on May 8 on one count of felony animal cruelty.

“It really is a win for team Tommie,” Peters told 8News.

Peters said donations for RACC came in from all 50 states and 13 different countries. The #TeamTommie T-shirts raised over $90,000.

“It’s been a lot. It’s enough that we can care for the animals in the shelter for the emergency care for the rest of the year,” Peters said. “It’s just a tremendous feeling to have so many people supporting the work that we do here.”

Although the cameras were not put in place as a response to Tommie’s death, some locals say the cameras can only help. 

“If it wasn’t a burned dog, it could’ve been a burned kid,” said J. Christian, a frequent visitor of the park. “If people know that they’re being watched, shoot yeah. If it doesn’t eliminate that means they wasn’t aware of what was going on so now that’s their fault they got caught. That’s their stupidity.” 

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