A man has been arrested several months after a beloved stray cat was shot dead with a crossbow outside of a Miami hotel.
Georgios Lollias, a 36-year-old employee of the Franklin Hotel, was arrested Wednesday on felony animal cruelty charges, Miami Beach Police said.
Lollias, who also goes by Georgios Kollias and Jorge Kollias Rivera, admitted to shooting the cat, named Strushie, in the head twice, leaving it to suffer and die, according to court documents obtained by the Miami Herald. Lollias is also charged with felony tampering with evidence.
Strushie was found, bleeding and wounded, near the hotel with an arrow through his head in April by people who feed the stray cats that live in the area. He was taken to a local animal hospital and euthanized there, officials said.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Lollias Stalked Strushie While Concealing the Crossbow & Then Shot the Cat in the Head as He Hid in Bushes, Police Say
Police said video surveillance showed Georgios Lollias, a clerk at The Franklin Hotel, stalking Strushie the cat outside the hotel while carrying a crossbow, the Miami Herald reports. He was trying to “conceal the crossbow from anyone that may be in the area,” according to court documents obtained by the newspaper.
Lollias then shot the crossbow into the bushes twice, puncturing Strushie’s skull and brain, and left the cat for dead, police said. According to police, Lollias is believed to have killed Strushie because he considered it to be a nuisance.
The cat was found on April 26 outside the 860 Collins Avenue hotel in the South Beach area of Miami, police said.
Miami Police released photos of the wounded cat, which you can see below. (Warning: the photos are graphic).
“The caller observed a beige cat with what appeared to be an arrow or dart lodged through its head and neck,” Ernesto Rodriguez of the Miami Beach Police Department told Patch.
Rachel Johnson, a veterinarian who treated Strushie, told WPLG-TV the cat was brought to Alton Road Animal Hospital with severe injuries. Gruesome X-rays showed how the arrow penetrated through the cat’s skull and mouth.
“We gave him pain medication, intravenously, right away, but again, by the time he arrived here, he was pretty unresponsive,” Johnson said in April. “We are trying to involve authorities because we’re concerned about dangers to people. You know, people who are willing to do these kinds of things probably are dangerous, not only to the animals for suffering, but also to people.”
Lollias initially claimed to have found the cat, and even spoke to a local news station about the case back in April.
“I hear ‘meow, meow’ over here, right here, and that’s what happened,” Lollias told WSVN-TV, pointing to an area near a dumpster where he claimed to have found the cat.
“It was a very, very evil act – shooting this cat in the head with an arrow,” animal rescuer Simone Anderson told WSVN after Lollias’ arrest. “In April, I was there. I saw it, I heard the cat screaming, I saw the face and he needs to be in jail. We don’t want people like him on the streets.”
2. Animal Activists in the Miami Area Raised a Reward to Catch Strushie’s Killer & Held Rallies to Push Authorities Toward an Arrest
Animal activists were able to raise $27,000 to help find Strushie’s killer and also created a Facebook page, “Justice for Strushie,” to raise awareness about the case. The Miami area animal lovers also held rallies to push police and prosecutors to fully investigate the case and led their own probes into the hotel and its employees, identifying Lollias as a possible person of interest several months before his arrest.
According to CBS Miami, Strushie was born in an alley near the Franklin Hotel and was among several cats who lived in the area and were regularly fed by animal lovers. Photos and videos posted by those who cared for Strushie show him outside the hotel.
“He was always in the hotel,” Angelo Lanza said, among those who took care of Strushie, told the news station. “People would take pictures with him. He was a gentle cat. I can’t even understand why someone would do something like that.”
Stephen Fox, one of the protesters, told NBC Miami after the arrest he was feeling a “combination of relief and vindication; our group really had strong feelings either the hotel owner or one of his employees were directly involved.”
According to a Change.org petition started by Kelly Marshall, Strushie was born at the hotel and had lived there since 2010.
“He was loved and cared for by the prior hotel owner, employees and guests until she sold the hotel in 11/16. The new owner, Chris Viso, agreed to let them live and thrive on the property while negotiating the sales contract. After ownership transferred, the former owner paid the hotel manager to feed the cats, in addition to providing all of the wet food,” the Change.org petition says. “However, a few months later, the manager refused to continue feeding the cats, so a few women came to the property to care for them daily. Eventually, the new owner Chris Viso started harassing Strushie’s feeders and threatened them with legal action, in addition to complaining about hating the cats.”
The former owner, Eleonora Todaro, put up $20,000 of the reward offered for information leading to the arrest of Strushie’s killer. Marshall wrote on the petition site that Strushie was Todaro’s favorite cat.
The creators of the page and other activists plan to be at the courthouse for all of Lollias’ court appearences.
3. The Secret Service Helped Police Recover Hotel Surveillance Video Erased From Its System
Detectives with the Miami Beach Police Department turned to the Secret Service to help them recover the missing surveillance video footage that eventually led to Lollias arrest, the Miami Herald reports.
Investigators had gone to the South Beach hotel to review the security camera video footage after Strushie was found dead, but found it “suspiciously erased,” the newspaper reports. The local Secret Service Electronic Crimes Task Force was brought in to find the missing video. The Secret Service agents were able to recover the lost video.
“When the evidence was retrieved, there are indicators to us that it was actually deleted, our forensic teams was able to retrieve that, which is how we were able to identify the subject,” Miami Beach Police spokesman Ernesto Rodriguez told CBS Miami.
The video was almost destroyed, which led to the tampering with evidence charge against Lollias, police told the news station.
Police told WSCV-TV the investigation is continuing and further arrests could be made.
“It is a great relief that we have found some level of justice for Strushie,” Miami Beach 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.”
4. He’s Posted Several Photos on Facebook Showing Him Working & Partying at the Franklin Hotel & Posing With Miami Beach Cops
Lollias goes by the name Georgios Kollias Rivera on Facebook and has also called himself Jorge Kollias Rivera. He
According to police, Lollias, who is from Greece, works as a clerk at The Franklin Hotel. He has also worked in security and in other roles at the hotel, according to his Facebook page.
His page shows him at the hotel, both working and partying. Lollias remains an employee at the hotel and also is a resident there, according to news reports.
His page also shows him posing with Miami Beach Police officers and wearing a badge. The photos were taken in August 2016. You can see those pictures of Lollias below:
Lollias says on his Facebook page that he is a Miami Beach resident. He does not have a prior criminal record in Florida, authorities said.
He has also worked as a “special officer” as extra security at the Ocean 9 Liquor store, according to a NBC Miami report. He is seen wearing a suit and a badge inside the store in a May 2016 news report. It appears he was working at that job when he posed with local police officers in the photos on his Facebook page.
In October 2016, he posted a video showing him and another man detaining someone.
The video shows Lollias holding the man in the street down until police arrive. He also shared news footage from the incident, saying, “Yes…I’m the guy with the suit…let’s do this!!!!!!”
5. Lollias Is at the Miami-Dade Jail on an Immigration Hold & Faces up to 10 Years in Prison
Georgios Lollias, a Greek citizen, remains at the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center on an immigration hold, according to online records. Lollias is not an American citizen. He was booked into the jail about 4 a.m. Wednesday, records show.
He appeared in court for the first time Wednesday before Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Mindy Glazer.
“This is a horrific case of animal abuse,” Glazer said in court, CBS Miami reports. “He shot this cat with a cross bow, allegedly, shot this cat with a cross bow twice in the head and the cat died and before the cat died, it suffered. Post Miranda, the defendant admitted shooting Strushie the cat twice with the crossbow.”
Glazer ordered him held on $30,000 bail in addition to the immigration hold, according to the news station. He would also not be allowed to be around any domestic animals and was required to surrender his passport, the judge ordered.
Lollias is facing two felony charges that could put him behind bars for up to 10 years. He was charged with animal cruelty with intent to kill, a third-degree felony and felony tampering with evidence. Each charge carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison if convicted.
His case was assigned to Judge Richard Hersch, but a date for his next court appearance hasn’t been set yet, according to online records.
It is not clear if Lollias has hired an attorney. Court records show he was expected to be appointed a public defender. The Franklin Hotel and its owner did not immediately return requests for comment.