A former soldier has pleaded guilty to undertaking one of the strangest raids of modern times, after busting into an animal shelter in full military gear and armed with a fake gun, taking a hostage, and demanding his lost cat to be returned to him. The entire incident happened just 12 hours before he had an appointment to collect the very cat he was demanding but decided to raid the shelter anyway in the pursuit of an earlier reunion.
Tony Wittman, 45, had previously lost his cat, who he reportedly relied on for PTSD, and had contacted the shelter to claim it back. When the shelter, which was just 10 minutes from closing, told him that he would have to make an appointment the following morning, things quickly spiraled out of control.
Wittman adorned tactical gear and an imitation firearm and stormed the premises at 10:20 pm, looking for his lost feline. As the ‘cat burglary progressed, Wittman then took a young employee hostage at gunpoint, stating "If you do as I say and listen to me, I won't shoot you”. Wittman forced the woman, who was begging for her life at the time, inside and then demanded the details of where the cats are held.
The woman was then tied up and left, being told not to move and to count to 100 before she called the police. Wittman then fled the scene, and the woman contacted help.
The story continues to take a turn for the bizarre after Wittman then returned the next morning, just 12 hours after performing a heist Heat-style and taking a hostage, to attend his appointment and retrieve his cat.
Wittman was taken into custody and confessed, and he has remained there without bail since January, when the heist took place.
After appearing in court today, Wittman plead guilty to eight charges, including false imprisonment and aggravated burglary. He will return to court next February.
While it sounds like a wild and certainly unnecessary act, Wittman reportedly suffers heavily from PTSD and relies on the cat to ground him in times of crisis. After being discharged from the army for "failure to render efficient service", Wittman has battled with his mental health and – like many former servicepeople – uses a therapy animal to aid him through troubling times.
It is unclear how long Wittman will be facing in prison, but he has not applied for bail.
If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, there are resources available. If you’re in the US, you can find a list of these on the National Institute of Mental Health website, and if you’re in Australia, these can be found at the Centre for Clinical Interventions.
[H/T: ABC News]