KEY POINTS

  • The suspect initially threatened to shoot the cat but turned the gun towards its owner
  • The suspect claims the victim assaulted him before the shooting
  • Neighbors say the suspect is a known “hot head” who often fought with them

A Florida man has been arrested for allegedly shooting and killing his neighbor whose cat wandered into his property.

The Marion County Sheriff's Office responded to a shooting report at Southeast 258th Avenue Road in Central Florida shortly before 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday. Officers arrested Cliffton Anthony Bliss Jr., 58, in connection with the death of James Arland Taylor Jr., 41, said police.

According to the police, Bliss became angry after Taylor’s cat wandered into his yard. An enraged Bliss went to Taylor’s home armed with a .22-caliber rifle to confront him.

"Mr. Bliss was so upset that his neighbor’s cat had wandered over into his yard that he went, retrieved a rifle, leaves his home, goes across the street to the victim’s home, tells them that he was upset that their cat came into his yard," Sgt. Paul Bloom with the Marion County Sheriff's Office said to WESH.

Investigator said Bliss initially threatened to shoot the cat but redirected his anger toward its owner. A witness said Bliss shot Taylor twice in the chest, killing him.

"The victim, Mr. Taylor, tells him, 'Please don’t shoot my cat,'" Bloom said, according to the outlet. "Mr. Bliss decides, 'You know what, I’m just going to shoot him.' So he shot Mr. Taylor and killed him there," he added.

Neighbors claim that Bliss was a known "neighborhood hot head" and "troublemaker" who often fought with them about their pets. "We're just shocked that something this minuscule could rise to something this devastating," Sgt. Bloom said to WESH.

Bliss told witnesses at the scene, and later to this wife during a phone call, that Taylor had assaulted him before the shooting. A witness refuted the claim and said she had not seen a physical altercation before the shooting. A detective investigating the case also said Bliss' assault claims appeared to be "without merit," Orlando Sentinel reported.

Bliss was arrested at the scene and has been charged with second-degree homicide. He is being held in the Marion County Jail without bond.

Hunting rifle A 12-year-old boy reportedly killed a home intruder who was in a struggle with his mother for fear of their lives. Photo: Getty Images | DANIEL ROLAND/AFP