Police charged a Jewish Montana man with attempted homicide for shooting a bartender who served him a nonkosher cocktail last week.
The gunfire that struck the bartender likely would have killed him if it hadn’t hit the injured dog he was carrying at the time, the man’s brother said this week.
Monte Leon Hanson, 59, shot his neighbor and bartender Joe Lewis because his “red eye” — a beer and tomato juice cocktail — was made with Clamato instead of tomato juice, according to court records.
Hanson, who is also charged with animal cruelty, said drinking Clamato, which is tomato juice flavored with clam broth, is against his Jewish religion.
The bartender’s brother, Mike Lewis, said Tuesday that a gunshot hit the dog, Jackson, in the head. He said that if his brother had not been carrying the pit bull, who was in a cast after having a toe removed, the shot could have hit Joe Lewis in the head.
“Joe’s alive today, because he was carrying Jackson to go to the bathroom, and when he was shot at, Jackson blocked the bullet that would have hit Joe,” Mike Lewis said.
A second shot hit Joe Lewis in the ribs and went out his back, missing any major organs.
“He’s doing all right now,” Mike Lewis said of his brother. “He’s just in a lot of pain is all. He’s staying strong. He’s out of the hospital.”
But “he’s pretty broken up about his dog,” he added.
Amy Bennett, who works with the victim, told the local newspaper, “He was a little upset.”
She explained, “He lost his best friend. … He’s very lucky to be alive.”
Family and friends are trying to raise money to get Lewis another red nose pit bull. They also hope to raise enough to cover about three months’ worth of living expenses until he can return to work.
Hanson is jailed, with bail set at $250,000. Public defender Ron Piper did not immediately return a phone call from The Associated Press on Wednesday morning seeking comment on behalf of his client.