A man who authorities said lured seagulls to a Laurel parking lot and then ran them over in January 2020 will not face jail time.
Because of COVID-19 court delays, the suspect did not make it to court until earlier this year, and an animal advocacy group said it is disappointed with the outcome.
Police said Nathaniel Thompson went into a Dollar Tree in Laurel, bought a bag of popcorn, scattered it in the parking lot to lure seagulls, then ran them over with his car, killing 11 of the birds.
“It’s imperative to treat these crimes with the severity they deserve, otherwise people get the message that it’s OK to do this,” said Nina Jackel, president of Lady Freethinker.
Jackel said Lady Freethinker, an animal advocacy nonprofit, has followed this case from the beginning and that she was stunned when, earlier this year, Thompson, who was arrested and charged, took an “other” plea and was placed on the STET docket.
“In doing so, he avoided all jail time, all fines, all restitution. This will actually be expunged from his record in a year as long as he doesn’t commit any other offenses. So, it’s almost like the crime never even happened. Jackel said.
The Prince George’s County State’s Attorney’s Office sent a statement to 11 News, saying in part: “Our office was unable to move forward with the prosecution of this case due to witness unavailability. The state requested a continuance to allow the essential witness to travel back to the area. However, the court denied the request.”
“The prosecutor only gave the key witness a week — a week’s notice. So, they didn’t have time to prepare,” Jackel said.
Some Laurel residents told 11 News they are also upset with the outcome.
“Jail time, definitely some jail time, community service – something; but he shouldn’t be able to get away with that at all,” said Angelique Thompson, a Laurel resident.
“Jail is not always the answer to me but definitely some sort of court-mandated program helps something because that’s an atrocity that’s horrible,” said Kquiana Villanova, a Laurel resident.