MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Dr. Walter Palmer is back at his Bloomington dental practice, but it’s not without some push back from people unhappy with his involvement in a controversial lion hunt.
Mike Hartley, a deputy chief with the Bloomington Police Department, said three women were arreseted after allegedly spray painting the sign at Palmer’s dental office, River Bluff Dental, in Bloomington. Police were called at about 7:30 a.m. Monday after a witness reported the sign had been spray-painted.
That witness gave police a description of the three suspects. When officers arrived, the three women matching the witness description were standing near the sign. They were transported to the Hennepin County Jail and were booked on suspicion of felony damage to property.
The three women were identified by authorities as 41-year-old Amy Lynn Waz of Port Richley, Fla., 44-year-old Melissa Lynn Waz of Port Richley, Fla. And 41-year-old Kimberly Ann Socha of Bloomington.
On Tuesday, the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office charged Socha with felony damage to property. The attorney’s office said at this time, no charges have been filed against Amy and Melissa Waz for felony aiding and abetting damage to property.
According to charges filed in the case, a witness spotted Socha at the scene spray-painting the words “perv” and “scum” on the sign of River Bluff Dental.
When officers arrived, they spotted Socha walking in front of the building and she was taken into custody. The complaint states the two other women with Socha at the scene were holding up protest poster boards to try and hide Socha’s vandalism.
The two told police they are sisters who live in Florida and came to the dentist office to protest Palmer and the shooting of Cecil the Lion. They told police they were not assisting Socha in the vandalism of the sign and didn’t know of the spray-painting until it happened.
The complaint states Melissa Waz told police she watched Socha spray-paint the sign, but didn’t participate.
A search of Socha’s vehicle revealed several cans of spray paint, including a can of black paint which had the top missing and had been sprayed. There were also multiple animal rights posters, signs and a fake animal trap with two fake furs with blood on them, the complaint states.
Palmer told police the signs cost more than $1,600 and must be replaced.
If convicted, Socha faces up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Palmer, who killed Cecil the Lion in Zimbabwe, returned to his dental practice on Sept. 8. He was met with several animal rights protesters and remains adamant that he did now know the lion killed in the hunt was beloved in Africa. He had been accused of poaching in Cecil’s death.
Palmer has received other threats as a result of the lion hunt and has had his home in Florida vandalized.