English bulldog theft suspect pleads not guilty

By Laura McVicker, Columbian staff writer

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A transient accused of stealing an English bulldog puppy at gunpoint pleaded not guilty Friday to several charges.

Jajuane D. Etheridge, 23, was arraigned on charges of first-degree unlawful possession of a firearm, second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm and second-degree possession of stolen property.

Trial was set for Dec. 17.

Etheridge allegedly stole the puppy, which is valued at $2,000, after arranging over Craigslist to purchase two dogs on Oct. 19 from an Oregon couple, Jim and Pat Steele. He said he'd pay $4,000.

Instead, Etheridge met the couple in the parking lot of Clackamas Town Center and allegedly displayed a gun and made off with one dog, Harpo, a 9-pound pup who is about 10 weeks old, according to court documents.

Etheridge was charged here because police found Harpo the dog in a suitcase in Vancouver, following a three-hour SWAT standoff Oct. 21 on Plomondon Street. Investigators said Etheridge allegedly stole the dog to give to his ex-girlfriend's daughter. Harpo, found by police who had noticed a suitcase moving a bit, was unharmed.

Police were tipped off to the dog's location after Etheridge's ex-girlfriend saw a news story on the bulldog robbery, Vancouver police Officer James Watson wrote in a probable cause affidavit filed with the court.

She went online and learned the suspect's description matched her ex-boyfriend's and that the suspect used a silver handgun: she owns one and knows Etheridge had access to it. The puppy that she had also matched the photos of the stolen one posted in the news story, Watson said.

Etheridge is being held on $100,000 bail.