Neighborhood on edge after family says home invader killed their dog

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - A Huntsville family told WHNT News 19, and posted online, that someone with a gun broke into their home on Gallatin Street near Bob Wallace Avenue on Tuesday night while their son slept. They said the person had a bandanna on and in the middle of the confusion, shot their dog multiple times.

"We were laying in bed and we heard a loud bang, crash, at the back of the house. We both kind of sat off. By that point I was edging toward the foot of the bed," explained Moises Hernandez on Wednesday evening. "This guy just kicked open the door. His gun was drawn and he was yelling at us-- where's the money and all this. We were telling him not to shoot, not to shoot."

The couple said at that point, their dog Pippa came in and approached the man. They said she wasn't growling or barking.

"I guess he was in burglar mindset and must have been spooked. And he immediately just unloaded a good 4 or 5 rounds into the dog," Moises explained.

His wife Brittany Dixon added, "Obviously, it could have been a lot worse. It could have been him, it could have been me, it could have been all three of us. My son was in his room asleep right next door."

Moises said he was able to get the man out of the house by promising he had cash in the car, at which point the man followed him outside at gunpoint.

"We got outside, and that's when I opened the car, grabbed the money and gave it to him," he said. "He was taking to me as if he was expecting that I was somebody he I guess knew of?" But the two insist that as far as they can tell, they've never met the man. And they have only been living there for a few months, but now they want to move.

Seeing Brittany's posts on social media sites, neighbors are on edge and staying alert.

"It was very traumatic," said neighbor Katie Morring. "It was very scary to think that could happen to anyone, especially in this neighborhood because it is such a sweet, quiet neighborhood."

Police say the victims believe the perpetrator or perpetrators wanted jewelry and cash. Huntsville Police are investigating this as a home invasion and robbery. They said a specialized unit is on the case.

"It is considered a home invasion or robbery. There is a lot of physical evidence that we were able to collect on this scene and we feel pretty confident," said Lt. Michael Johnson. "We do have a specialized unit in our criminal investigative division, the Violent Crimes unit, and they have a lot of expertise in dealing with these. We do know it is an isolated incident in that area. So moving forward with it, it is still under investigation. We believe we may have arrests pretty soon."

Still, Morring wants to get the word out to her neighbors. She says she doesn't even know the people who live in the home where this happened, but she wants everyone to stick together to prevent crime.

"I just want people to be cautious and be aware," she explained.

Lt. Johnson said police will be increasing patrols in this neighborhood at nighttime. In the meantime, they want everyone to keep a sharp eye.

"Since the incident, we will have extra patrols at night through the area. We would like everyone to please report to us any suspicious activity," said Lt. Johnson. "Any slow-moving vehicles that may be in the area, anybody who is walking on foot that seems suspicious. That's what we are here for."

"I won't ever be leaving my car or my house unlocked or anything like that," Morring commented. "And security will definitely be increased."

Lt. Johnson said what happened in that neighborhood was isolated to that place and it's still under investigation. He expects investigators to make an arrest soon.

Brittany Dixon said she is hoping police can act quickly, and she is pleased with their response so far. As she waits to hear back from a detective, she can't stop thinking about how scary this is for her family.

"The thing that's hardest is, yeah, it could have been so much worse, but it's still so disturbing that... someone can just kick in your back door and everything you felt and built to be safe for your family, you know?" She added through tears, "I'm beyond shaken and rattled."

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