The death of Strushie the cat — shot in the head with an arrow behind a South Beach hotel — horrified pet lovers and animal activists.
But when Miami Beach detectives reviewed the Franklin Hotel’s surveillance system looking for clues, they found that footage from that day had suspiciously been erased. The department turned to the U.S. Secret Service’s Electronic Crimes Task Force, which specializes in recovering erased data from computers, phones and other devices.
What they turned up led to the arrest early Wednesday of hotel clerk Georgios Lollias, 36, who admitted he shot the beloved stray cat using a crossbow in April, according to an arrest report.
The lost footage showed Lollias hunting for Strushie while attempting to “conceal the crossbow from anyone that may be in the area,” the report said. Then, Lollias shot into the bushes where the cat was hiding, puncturing Strushie’s skull and brain, police said.
A woman who feeds Strushie regularly later found the bleeding cat, but it could not be saved and had to be euthanized.
Lollias was charged with animal cruelty and tampering with evidence. He remained in jail Wednesday afternoon. It was unknown whether he had a lawyer.
Police suspected he may have stalked the cat because strays were considered a nuisance. Lollias has no criminal record in Florida.
The death of the popular feline at the hotel has become a rallying point for animal activists, who even started a “Justice for Strushie” page on Facebook.
“It is a great relief that we have found some level of justice for Strushie,” said Police Chief Daniel Oates in a statement. “This was a horrific act of animal cruelty. I congratulate our detectives on this arrest and the U.S. Secret Service for the critical assistance they provided to us.”