A landowner in the San Francisco Bay-area of California has been arrested after he allegedly shot and buried 11 head of cattle following dispute over grazing with his tenants.
Officers from the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office arrested Marc Belluomini, 54, of Fremont, California, on Aug. 27 for 11 counts of animal cruelty, two counts of illegal cattle driving, and brandishing a firearm.
Eleven cattle were exhumed from a mass grave on Belluomini’s land near Morgan Hill where shell casing were found. According to the Sheriff’s Office there were fragments of high-powered rifle rounds in some of the dead cattle.
“I am extremely proud of the exquisite work by our investigators in this unusual case,” Sheriff Laurie Smith said in a statement. “I truly hope justice will be served in response to the cruel killing of these animals.”
The cattle were owned by a pair of ranchers who had an agreement with Belluomini to graze his 1,500 acres of pastureland. The Sheriff’s Office says it was clear the grazing arrangement “began to break down.”
Eventually a disagreement occurred and one of the tenants wanted to remove some of the 60 cattle from the land on May 25. At this point it is alleged that Belluomini brandishing a rifle at his outgoing grazing tenant. Gates to the pasture were then locked by Belluomini.
Deputies from the Sheriff’s Office Rural Crime unit met with all the parties to help settle the dispute and all of the cattle would be removed from the pasture.
On June 5, deputies were notified that “numerous cattle had been slaughtered and buried” on Belluomini’s land.
The owners of the cattle had seen cattle remains sticking out of the ground from the mass grave upon removing their remaining livestock. Approximately 26 head of cattle were missing at the time.
An investigation ensued and multiple search warrants were issued. Investigators later went to the property on June 14 and discovered the mass grave.
Belluomini has since been released after posting $200,000 bail.