Five arrested in Lady Gaga dognapping, including woman who turned in dogs

Detectives say they think the suspects didn't know the dogs belonged to Lady Gaga, just that their breed made them valuable.

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4 min read

Arrests have been made in the highly publicized February shooting of Lady Gaga's dog walker, Ryan Fischer, and the theft of her dogs, the Los Angeles Police Department said Thursday. One of the people arrested was the woman who claimed to have found the stolen pets, the LAPD said in a statement.

The attack happened when Fischer was walking the singer's three dogs in Hollywood. Fischer was hospitalized but survived, and the two French bulldogs who were stolen were later recovered unharmed. The singer's popularity and a shocking video of the robbery helped make the news a global headline.

Who are the suspects?

The LAPD statement names James Jackson, 18; Jaylin White, 19; and 27-year-old Lafayette Whaley as the three people the department thinks were involved in the shooting and robbery. 

"Detectives do not believe the suspects were targeting the victim because of the dogs' owner," the statement said. "However, evidence suggests the suspects knew the great value of the breed of dogs" and that this was the motivation for the theft.

The two others arrested, Harold White, 40, and Jennifer McBride, 50, were determined to be accessories after the initial crime, according to the statement. McBride is the woman who reported finding the dogs and responded to the offer of a $500,000 reward from Lady Gaga herself for the safe return of the animals, no questions asked. The statement says she had a relationship with the father of one of the suspects.

What happened to Lady Gaga's dog walker? 

On Feb. 24, a male suspect shot and wounded Fischer and stole two of Lady Gaga's three French bulldogs, Koji and Gustav. The third dog, Miss Asia, wasn't taken. The theft happened at approximately 9:40 p.m. PT, according to the LAPD, and the suspect used a semiautomatic handgun and fled the scene in a white, four-door Nissan Altima.

horrifying home surveillance video obtained by TMZ shows a man jumping out of a car and confronting Fischer, saying, "Give it up." The men struggle, and a shot can be heard, as can a dog's yelps and the panicked cries of the injured victim. "Help me, I've been shot. I've been shot," he screams as he lies on the ground. "Oh my god." A neighbor can be heard rushing to help Fischer. 

What happened to the dogs?

French bulldogs Koji and Gustav have been returned unharmed.

According to the LAPD, a woman brought the dogs to the department's Olympic Community Police Station two days after they were taken, and Gaga's representatives were on hand to confirm they were the singer's pets. 

At the time, law enforcement sources told TMZ they believed the woman, who they didn't identify then, was a good Samaritan who wasn't involved in the theft of the animals. Looks like that's changed.

Lady Gaga's reaction to the crime

When the crime happened, the singer wasn't home in California but was filming a movie in Italy. (See below for more details.) She spoke out about the attack in an Instagram post.

"My heart is sick and I am praying my family will be whole again with an act of kindness," Lady Gaga posted, along with a photo of the dogs. Gaga went on to praise the injured dog walker, writing, "I continue to love you Ryan Fischer, you risked your life to fight for our family. You're forever a hero."

Why would someone steal French bulldogs? 

In short, they're valuable and in demand. Puppies typically sell for between $1,500 and $3,000, but they can sell for far more. This isn't the first time French bulldogs, known as Frenchies, have been stolen. In November, two French bulldogs were reported stolen from the backyard of a residence in Daly City, just south of San Francisco. And just last month, a San Francisco woman reported being violently assaulted and having her 6-month-old French bulldog stolen.

French bulldogs have big ears, large square heads and compact muscular bodies. The American Kennel Club describes the breed as "one of the world's most popular small-dog breeds, especially among city dwellers. The Frenchie is playful, alert, adaptable, and completely irresistible."  

Where was Lady Gaga? 

The performer was in Rome, filming the new movie Gucci, about the famous fashion family dynasty. In the film, Gaga plays Patrizia Reggiani, Italian socialite and ex-wife of Maurizio Gucci, the grandson of Gucci founder Guccio Gucci. Reggiani was tried and convicted of orchestrating her husband's assassination in 1995. Maurizio had two daughters with Reggiani, but he left her for another woman. Ridley Scott will direct the film, which is based on Sara Gay Forden's book The House of Gucci: A Sensational Story of Murder, Madness, Glamour, and Greed.

Who is the injured dog walker?

According to the New York Post, Ryan Fischer, 30, recently relocated to Los Angeles from New York. One of his Instagram pages, Valley of the Dogs, features photos of what appear to be Gaga's dogs, as well as plenty of other canines. That's where he posted the update on his condition and thanked people for their support.

When he was hospitalized, Fischer shared photos on Instagram, one of him looking unconscious, and one of him awake and sitting up.

In the captions, Fischer discussed the shooting and called Gaga's dog Asia, who stayed with him as he lay bleeding, an "angel."

He also wrote, "I will write and say more later, but the gratitude for all the love I feel from around this planet is immense and intense. I felt your healing support! Thank you. I am humbled and grateful that attention and focus from the police were enough to get Koji and Gustav back to safety, and I know they are committed to bringing these criminals and attempted murderers to justice."