Cambridge man arrested following disturbing crimes targeting cats

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — A Cambridge man has been arrested in connection to three East Cambridge animal cruelty cases that occurred between March and May of this year, police said.

Rashad Gober, 31, was arrested at his home early Thursday morning.

MORE: Cambridge community uneasy after disturbing crimes targeting cats

On May 6, animal control officers responded to a call about an animal crying under a car. When they arrived, they found that a cat, whose back legs were bound together with masking tape, was already dead.

A necropsy showed that a large amount of “Gosha’s” fur was missing, and the cat received multiple BB gunshot wounds across its face and body.

While investigating that incident, two additional previous cat cruelty cases were brought to the attention of Cambridge police and the MSPCA. A BB gun was used to injure “Tammy” on March 3 or 4 in East Cambridge. Fortunately, that cat was able to recover and survive.

MORE: Reward offered after cat found bound, shot multiple times

And at some point between May 2-5, another East Cambridge cat, “Buddy” suffered from chemical burns. That cat was also able to recover and survived.

The investigation showed Gober claimed to find Buddy in his yard and took it into his apartment for medical attention. Gober had allegedly notified the owner through a neighborhood social networking app that he found the cat and returned Buddy to her.

After looking into other tips from the community, Cambridge police and the MSPCA located key evidence in the cases from Gober’s apartment, vehicle and phone.

Gober is expected to be arraigned in Cambridge District Court Thursday on four counts of animal cruelty. In a statement Thursday, the MSPCA lauded efforts by law enforcement and members of the public that led to Gober’s arrest.

“Today’s news is the breakthrough that animal lovers across Massachusetts have been waiting for since May. I’m profoundly grateful to the Cambridge Police Department, the City of Cambridge Animal Commission, and the MSPCA’s own uniformed law enforcement officers for their rigorous investigative work and close collaboration. I also extend my gratitude to everyone who phoned in tips, offered words of encouragement, and supported the efforts that led to today’s news,” said Neal Litvack of the MSPCA.

“I commend everyone involved in this investigation, from the Cambridge Police Department, the City of Cambridge Animal Commission, and the MSPCA law enforcement officers that I’m so proud to serve alongside every day. I hope today’s news offers a collective sigh of relief for the citizens of Cambridge who’ve demonstrated patience and understanding during the investigative process,” said Tom Grenham with the law enforcement division of the MSPCA.

David Petrillo does maintenance at the suspect’s apartment in Cambridge. Back in the spring, when police started investigating multiple cats being tortured, signs went up and Petrillo remembers making the connection.

“It mentioned a cat had been shot with BBs, tortured and bound. The BBs is what tipped me off because there was BBs all over the basement in front of the washer, and I couldn’t understand why,” Petrillo said.

Cambridge Police believe Gober was luring cats into the apartment with plates of food. We obtained a video from the landlord showing the food all over the unit. Middlesex County ADA Ashlee Mastrangelo told the court what police say happened to the cat that died.

“The cat had its rear paws taped together with masking tape and appeared to be soaking wet. They noticed it had head trauma and missing fur on one side,” Mastrangelo said.

We talked to one of the cat owners on the phone who was relieved there was an arrest. Police said they got several tips that helped lead them to Gober. Cambridge Police Deputy Superintendent Fred Cabral told us his investigators are happy to bring this to an end.

“There is a lot of fear. As we all know pets are part of the family and defenseless. And when something like that happens to your family there is a lot, a lot of anxiety that this can happen again,” Deputy Police Superintendent Cabral said.

In court, we also learned how the suspect was allegedly planning to do this based on his search history on the Internet.

“‘Can you abuse a cat and make it like you, what happens if someone steals a cat, ways to abuse a cat,’” Mastrangelo recalled.

Prosecutors said, after torturing one of the cats, Gober posted on a community website when the owner was looking to thank the person who found the cat, writing “Yes, I found her in this back unkempt corner of my backyard. My friend said it looked like a chemical burn. I tried to clean her up gently and bathe her.”

Gober has no prior history of violence. He will be back in court on July 7 for a dangerousness hearing. Attorney Alice Purple was assigned to be Gober’s attorney.

“I would state that Mr. Gober adamantly denies the allegation and adamantly denies the charges,” Purple said.