SAN JOSE (CBS SF) – A homeless man was arrested Saturday in San Jose for allegedly destroying property and stabbing a pet turtle in a preschool.

Michelangelo the Tortoise is recovering from a transient attack on Saturday’s preschool of Play ‘n’ Learn. (CBS)

San Jose police responded to the Play ‘n’ Learn preschool at 505 Massar Ave at around 11:30 am Saturday after a man acted erratically and destroyed property. The officers located a suspect who fled the scene and arrested him without incident.

Subsequent investigations found damage to the school building and playground amounting to approximately $ 1,800. In addition, a 65-pound turtle named Michelangelo was stabbed through its outer shell with a piece of wood and showed signs of additional recent abuse.

George Robles

George Robles. (Photo by the San Jose Police Dept)

The suspect was identified as an uninhabited San Jose resident named George Robles at the age of 40. He is charged with vandalism and animal abuse.

Police said Robles continued to act irregularly and had undergone a 72-hour emergency mental health assessment.

“Abusing an innocent animal is intolerable and needs to be addressed,” Acting Police Chief Dave Tindall said in an email. “This underscores the need for ongoing collaboration with our mental health professionals. I am grateful for the crisis intervention training our officers have provided, which has led to the secure arrest of all involved. “

After an overnight operation at Archvet Animal Hospital in San Jose, the turtle appeared to be fine on Sunday.

Michelangelo was walking around and still seemed philanthropic, but his trauma was evident. Any loud, sudden noises would cause him to retreat into his shell.

“This is a brutal attack on something that cannot be defended,” said Dr. Tal Solomon from Archvet Animal Hospital. “He can’t even run away. I’ve been doing this for almost 11 years now and it’s a first for me. ”

The African turtle donated a turtle rescue program to Play ‘n’ Learn four years ago. The children named him Michelangelo after the cartoon character Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle.

“The kids love him,” said preschool teacher Brooke Lariz. “They get so excited … he loves being with the kids, he’s just a happy little turtle,” added Lariz, then quickly corrected himself because Michelangelo is not that short. He weighs about 70 pounds and is about two feet long.

On Saturday morning, police said a homeless man jumped over the school fence and attacked Michelangelo in the school garden.

“I thought he was dead when I saw that. So it felt almost good when he hissed at me because I knew he was alive, ”said Tammy Lariz, the preschool administrator. It referred to a rake handle and a piece of 4 by 4 pressure treated wood that Michelangelo’s shell had impaled.

“Whenever it moved or we tried to move it, more blood came in,” said Lariz.

It seemed like the attacker hit the turtle from a classroom with garden tools and objects.

“It just didn’t make sense. I can’t even understand how gross it can be to do this to an animal, ”said Brooke Lariz.

Dr. Solomon said Michelangelo should recover fully and be able to return to the children. The challenge now is to explain to the preschoolers and help them deal with the attack.

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