Cleveland PD: Man charged with animal cruelty takes his own life

Cleveland Police say a local dog trainer accused of abusing pets in his care is dead. (Image: WTVC)

UPDATE: (Friday morning):

Several animals were rescued from Kinder's Dalton home on Friday. Read the latest here.

Seven were owned by different people, who hired Kinder to train their dogs.

Animal Control says they are all severely starved and dehydrated. They say all the dogs were confined in crates for weeks. Kinder's neighbor tells us he never saw a dog being let outside once.

We're also learning from Dalton police that Kinder shot himself after police served a search warrant at his home in Dalton, Georgia. One of Kinder's friends contacted police to say Kinder was having suicidal thoughts. Dalton detectives spoke to Kinder on the phone at 12:10 p.m.

Police say he denied those claims. He said he was on his way to meet detectives at his home in Dalton. Twenty minutes later, someone in Cleveland called 911. Police discovered Kinder shot himself in his red Chevy.

UPDATE (Thursday evening):

Dalton Police spokesman Bruce Frazier confirms that officers executed a search warrant on Stephen Kinder's home in Dalton Thursday.

Frazier did not elaborate on what time the warrant was served, or what officers were searching for, but he did say they were still on the scene around 5:30 p.m.

Frazier says he will have more information for us after a press release is issued Friday morning.

ORIGINAL STORY:

Cleveland Police say a local dog trainer accused of abusing pets in his care is dead.

Cleveland PD spokesperson Evie West says officers believe Stephen Kinder, the owner of Kinder Dog Training in Cleveland, shot himself in the American Legion parking lot in Cleveland around 12:30 Thursday afternoon.

A red car in the American Legion parking lot - that's where Cleveland Police say Kinder took his own life.

"There was police everywhere and ambulances," says Marke Meade. He says he saw Kinder pull into the parking lot around noon today.

Just 30 minutes later, police say he shot himself.

Officers performed CPR when they found Kinder in his car. Police say he later died at Tenova hospital.

This comes just days after Kinder was charged with animal cruelty. He faced five counts of animal cruelty after several pet owners filed complaints with police, claiming Kinder starved and neglected their dogs.

Stephen Kinder spoke with NewsChannel 9 earlier this week.

He said he was disheartened by the backlash he was facing on social media, and told police he was receiving death threats.

"I don't know what was going through his mind. I don't know if it was just this specific incident, if it was what was being said, or if it was the collective - you know, something that made him think that this was just not worth it, in order to take his own life," says Cleveland PD Sergeant Evie West.

Police are leaning on family and friends to piece together this investigation, trying to answer the daunting question of "Why?"

This is a developing story - depend on us to update our story as we learn more.

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