SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) - Springfield police say they have arrested a 71 year-old man they saw stomping on and beating a hawk with a candlestick holder.
George McKenzie of Springfield is facing a single charge of cruelty to animals for the incident on Tuesday morning.
Police Sgt. John Delaney told 22News that two detectives were driving down Pearl Street toward the police station around 7:00 A.M. when they saw the hawk feeding on a pigeon it had just killed. As they pulled over to take a photo of the bird, they saw a man (later identified as McKenzie) throw a log at the bird, hitting it.
Officer Michael Goggin told 22News what he witnessed: "Saw feathers in the air and then saw an older black male attempt to kill the bird by stomping on his head, he was wearing work boots, he was also trying to hit the bird with a ceramic candle holder."
"I was actually shocked; it was surreal that it was happening in front of us, but it happened so quickly."
The hawk has serious damage to its wings, and was initially thought by police not to be able to fly. Environmental police tried to capture the injured animal, but it got away. 22News reporter Elysia Rodriguez spotted the bird in a tree on Pearl Street early Tuesday afternoon. By the late afternoon, it had flown away from the tree.
Delaney says the battered bird appears to be a Cooper's Hawk .
McKenzie pleaded not guilty during his arraignment at Springfield District Court on Tuesday afternoon. He was ordered held on $1,000 cash bail. McKenzie will be back in court on June 17.
Members of McKenzie's church came to court to show support for him. "They describe him as a very responsible, peaceful contributor to their community," McKenzie's attorney said.
McKenzie has no criminal record.