NC country store owner hid video of Rocky the Rottweiler attacking man, sheriff says

Joe Marusak
·2 min read

The owner of a North Carolina country store was arrested for failing to disclose a video showing a Rottweiler named Rocky “lunging aggressively” at a man who fatally shot the beloved pooch, authorities said.

But Rocky’s owner, who works for the store owner, told The Charlotte Observer on Saturday that the video shows Rocky doing nothing wrong.

“He blew him away, and my dog suffered a horrible death,” Erica Penley said. “I’m appalled, and I feel like an elephant is sitting on my chest.”

Rocky was dozing on the front porch of Betsey’s Ole Country Store & Cabin Rental on N.C. 90 in the Caldwell County community of Collettsville when he was shot on March 28, the Sheriff’s Office posted on Facebook at the time.

The shooting sparked a community outcry. Store visitors said Rocky was a gentle big dog they’d come to know and love. A 35-year-old man, Joshua Wayne Hawley of Morganton was charged with felony cruelty to animals for shooting the dog.

On Friday, sheriff’s investigators posted an update on social media revealing a different side to the dog — a side the store owner never let on about, they said.

“Subsequent investigation has revealed that another video exists of the incident that occurred and has been turned over to Caldwell County Sheriff’s Investigators,” according to a sheriff’s office Facebook post.

“The video revealed that the dog, Rocky, charged and lunged aggressively at Joshua Wayne Hawley, at which point Hawley shot the dog,” the Sheriff’s Office said.

Felony obstruction charge

Store owner Bruce Morrison Gray had the video and “failed to turn that video over to Caldwell County Investigators,” according to the post.

Gray was charged with felony obstruction of justice and jailed on $20,000 bail, investigators said.

Gray couldn’t be reached by the Observer on Saturday.

Owner defends Rocky

Penley said she’s repeatedly watched the video, which she said was on Gray’s phone, and she’s convinced it shows the man holding a gun before Rocky ever “bolted” toward him. She was at the store that day and is convinced the store was about to be robbed.

Why, she asked, would the man have then driven away?

And, if “a 125-pound dog attacked you, you’d have marks,” which the man with the gun didn’t after the incident, she said.

Big, adorable Rottweiler

After the shooting, Penley and Gray described Rocky this way to Observer news partner WBTV: A big, adorable Rottweiler that lovingly greeted everyone who entered and left the store.

“Why would somebody hurt that gentle giant?” Penley told WBTV. “I don’t understand.”

Expressions of grief soon followed on social media from many of Rocky’s fans.

*****News Release***** More information has become available in reference to the incident on March 28th,2021 in which a...

Posted by Caldwell County Sheriff's Office on Friday, April 16, 2021