ANGELS — The man who shot and injured Lady Gaga’s dog walker last year by stealing her French bulldogs has reached a plea deal and was sentenced to 21 years in prison on Monday, officials said .
The Lady Gaga connection was coincidental, authorities said. The motive was the value of French bulldogs, a breed that can cost thousands of dollars, and detectives don’t believe the thieves knew the dogs belonged to the musician.
James Howard Jackson, one of three men and two accomplices who participated in the robbery and its aftermath, did not contest one count of attempted murder, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. It was not immediately clear which attorney was representing Howard on Monday.
Pop star dog walker Ryan Fischer was seriously injured in the attack and went to court on Monday to make an impact statement, which he posted on Instagram.
“It’s hard to believe it’s been almost two years since I took Asia, Koji and Gustav for a nighttime walk when – in an instant – I suddenly found myself fighting with everything I had to protect these dogs. against theft. But that wasn’t enough: I was beaten, strangled, shot and left for dead, bleeding on a sidewalk and gasping for my life. And Koji and Gustav were gone.
Jackson and two others drove around Hollywood, the city of West Hollywood and the San Fernando Valley on Feb. 24, 2021 “looking for French bulldogs,” prosecutors previously said. They found Fischer with the pop star’s three pets.
Jackson shot Fischer during the robbery on famous Sunset Boulevard, during which two of the dogs were abducted. A nearby doorbell camera recorded the dog walker shouting “Oh my God! I have been shot! and “Help me!” and “I’m bleeding from my chest!”
Fischer later called the violence “very close to death” in social media posts. In his statement Monday, he said he was still physically and mentally recovering from the shooting. Part of his lung had to be removed and he is still undergoing physical therapy.
Fischer also addressed Jackson directly in the statement and said he forgives him and others involved in the attack. “You have completely changed my life, and I know I can’t fully move on from the night you shot me until I said those words to you.”
The stolen dogs were returned days later by Jennifer McBride, also charged with the crime.
The pop star had offered a $500,000 reward – “no questions asked” – to be reunited with the dogs at the time.
Jackson also admitted to the allegation of inflicting serious bodily harm and prior strike action, the prosecutor’s office said Monday. The prosecutor’s office did not immediately specify what the previous strike consisted of.
“The plea agreement holds Mr. Jackson accountable for perpetrating a violent and callous act and brings justice to our victim,” the office said in a statement. Howard had been charged with attempted murder, conspiracy to commit robbery and assault with a semi-automatic firearm.
Jackson was mistakenly released from prison earlier this year due to a clerical error. It was picked up nearly five months later.
Another accomplice, Harold White, pleaded uncontested on Monday to a count of an ex-con in possession of a firearm. White, who was in a relationship with McBride at the time, will be sentenced next year. McBride’s case is ongoing.
The couple reportedly tried to help White’s son, Jaylin White, avoid arrest following the shooting.
Jaylin White and Lafayette Whaley earlier this year did not contest the robbery.
Whaley drove Jackson and young White last year as they searched for the expensive dogs. Jackson and White jumped out and attacked Fischer, prosecutors previously said. They punched and choked the dog walker, and Jackson pulled out a semi-automatic pistol and fired, hitting Fischer once before the trio fled.
Representatives for Lady Gaga did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Associated Press writer Andrew Dalton contributed.