Florida man accused of killing neighbor after cat wandered on property

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A Florida man is accused of fatally shooting a neighbor whose cat walked onto his property, authorities said.

Clifton Anthony Bliss Jr., 58, was arrested Wednesday and charged with second-degree homicide, the Marion County Sheriff’s Department said.

“Mr. Bliss was so upset that his neighbor’s cat had wandered over into his yard that he went, retrieved a rifle, leaves his home, goes across the street to the victim’s home” before opening fire on the victim, sheriff’s Sgt. Paul Bloom told NBC affiliate WFLA.

No one answered a phone number listed under the suspect’s name Friday night. Two members of the Marion County Public Defenders Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The sheriff’s department identified the victim as 41-year-old James Arland Taylor Jr. His home was near the central Florida city of Umatilla.

A probable cause affidavit in the case cited a witness who said Bliss tried to find the cat and was followed by Taylor who asked Bliss to leave. At that point, Bliss shot Taylor twice, or “double tapped” the .22 rifle he allegedly used, the witness said in the document.

Bloom added that Taylor had pleaded, “Please don’t kill my cat,” before gunfire erupted.

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A neighbor who drove by after the shooting saw Taylor on the ground and asked if he was all right. “No, I’m dying,” he responded, according to the affidavit.

Neighbors alleged Bliss was a “troublemaker,” “hot head,” and someone who, armed with a gun, had threatened people over their pets in the past, the document states.

Bliss’ wife told investigators the suspect called her right after the shooting and alleged that Taylor had assaulted him before he opened fire in self defense, according to the filing.

Detectives don’t believe that story because Bliss was known to “instigate fights with members of the community,” Cpl. J. Lightle wrote in the document.

Bliss remained in the Marion County Jail on Friday and was being held without bond.

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