On September 8, at approximately 10:30 a.m., the Mammoth Lakes Police Department (MLPD) responded to a call about a bear laying in the bushes behind the Mammoth Hospital Orthopedic Institute, showing no signs of movement.
Responding officers determined that the bear was deceased. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife was subsequently called to the scene, and confirmed that the bear was shot to death.
Multiple residents in the area reported hearing a single gunshot around 2:30 a.m. that morning, presumably when the bear was shot and killed. A suspect was captured on a security camera fleeing the scene.
Upon hearing news of the bear being shot and killed, Mammoth locals grieved under the comments section of MLPD’s Facebook press release detailing the incident. The general consensus was that of outrage – and, that whoever killed the bear must have been a tourist passing through the area, someone uneducated on how to properly interact with Mammoth’s bears.
To everybody’s surprise, the culprit charged with the bear’s murder is a lifelong Mammoth local.
On September 13, 46-year-old longtime local Elohim “Elo” Kai Tracy was arrested after turning himself in for shooting the bear at his own residence.
Tracy was arraigned on September 15 in Mono County Superior Court and charged with discharge of a firearm with gross negligence, cruelty to an animal, carrying a loaded firearm in a public place, and possession of a firearm by a narcotic addict.
Sophie Bidet was appointed as Tracy’s attorney during his arraignment. He pled not guilty on all four charges.
Bidet requested that Tracey receive a 2-3 day release before his upcoming pre-bail hearing in Bridgeport on Tuesday, September 20 at 10 a.m. so that he could return to his residence in Mammoth to take care of his animals and complete an important contracting job scheduled for the weekend, as he didn’t have time to “wrap up his affairs” before turning himself into police.
District attorney Dave Anderson urged denial of the request. “Based on his current situation, I feel very uncomfortable with him being released into the community at this time,” said Anderson. “He was found with an illegal firearm (.45) not registered in California. During his interview a couple days ago with law enforcement, Mr. Tracy said that he was going through both suboxone and methadone withdrawal, which he admitted he is addicted to. This may be in part why he was in an irritable mood when he shot the bear. In addition, he shot the bear right next to an apartment building.
Anderson then requested that Tracy’s bail be set at $100,000 instead of the scheduled $35,000.
According to Mammoth Officer Rick Bellis, the deceased bear was an adult female between 4 and 6 years old and about 160 pounds. Based on her physique, the bear did not have a cub this year, but it appeared that she had given birth at least once in the past. There is a good chance she was the bear who had been stealing food out of the Carl’s Jr. trash cans and bread from Vons, according to Bellis.
Tracy will remain in Bridgeport until Tuesday, September 20, at which point there will be a bail review conducted.