A Grover Beach police officer hired less than three months ago is the owner of the dog that killed one person and injured another last week, the Grover Beach Police Department announced Thursday.
Alex Geiger was identified by Grover Beach police Chief John Peters as the owner of the dog that attacked David Fear, 64, and Betty Long, 85, on the afternoon of Dec. 13. Fear died from his injuries at Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center three days after the attack. Long suffered a broken pelvis and shoulder.
Authorities euthanized the Belgian Malinois the same afternoon. A second dog owned by Geiger, a German shepherd, was also at the scene and is being held in quarantine while San Luis Obispo County Animal Services completes its investigation into the incident.
Geiger, who was put on paid administrative leave from the Police Department, has not been charged with a crime.
On Thursday, Geiger released a prepared statement:
“I can’t begin to imagine the pain and sadness that the families of Mr. David Fear and Ms. Betty Long are going through as a result of this tragic incident. I know my words cannot change what happened, but I wish to express my sympathies and prayers to the Fear family during this difficult time. I am also praying for Ms. Betty Long and her family, and I wish her a speedy recovery.”
The Grover Beach Police Officers Association also released a statement:
“Over the last few days, the Grover Beach Police Officers Association has been trying to process this tragic and unusual incident that occurred in our community. We are deeply saddened for the families of Ms. Betty Long and the death of Mr. David Fear, and our condolences go out to everyone involved. With our deepest condolences and our everlasting support for our community.”
A city news release stated that Geiger is a four-year veteran of law enforcement and was hired by the city in September. He was officially sworn in at a Grover Beach City Council meeting Oct. 3.
Geiger previously worked as a deputy in the Kings County Sheriff’s Office from July 2012 to July 2013, according to the Office of County Counsel.
The Grover Beach Police Department and county Animal Services, which is leading the investigation, had withheld Geiger’s identity for more than a week, citing personnel confidentiality and the ongoing investigation.
Chief Peters said the department made the decision to release his identity Thursday after Geiger gave his consent following discussions with attorneys.
On Thursday, Animal Services Director Eric Anderson said his department is near the end of its investigation. He said that, given the holiday weekend, he would likely submit his office’s findings to the San Luis Obispo District Attorney’s Office for review next week.
Long was transferred from the hospital Saturday to a rehabilitation center, where she is expected to stay for four to six weeks of treatment, her daughter Lori Chevoya said. Long has hired Nipomo personal injury attorney Jacqueline Frederick, Chevoya said. Frederick could not immediately be reached for comment.
Neighbors said Long was outside her home with her small dog on Dec. 13 when the Belgian Malinois and German shepherd came running up the street from nearby Owens Court, where Geiger had recently rented a house. When the dogs attacked, Fear came to Long’s rescue and the dogs turned on him, they said.