Indianapolis Colts safety Rodney Thomas II (25) looks on during an NFL game between the Indianapolis Colts and the Denver Broncos at Empower Field at Mile High on October 06, 2022 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Brandon Sloter/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
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The father of Indianapolis Colts safety Rodney Thomas has been accused of shooting and killing one of two bald eagles known to live in an area outside Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
On May 15, Mount Pleasant police received multiple reports that a man had shot and killed the bird. At least one report came from an individual who claimed to have witnessed part of the incident. The bird, believed to have been shot by an air rifle three days earlier, was already dead by the time officers arrived.
Police then handed the investigation over to the Pennsylvania State Game Commission, and soon afterward, a suspect turned himself in and "admitted to all aspects of the crime," the New York Post reported, citing Fox News.
The suspect was later identified as 50-year-old Rodney Thomas of Canonsburg, Pennsylvania. He is the father of 25-year-old Rodney Thomas II, who was drafted out of Yale University by the Colts a little over a year ago and who appeared in all 17 games in the 2022-23 season. Though the team had an abysmal 4-12-1 record, Thomas II had a decent rookie season, notching four interceptions and 52 total tackles.
Though folks in the Pittsburgh area often root against the Philadelphia Eagles, they seemed to cherish the two bald eagles that nested nearby, including the newly deceased eagle known to some as Sam. Sam and his mate had lived in the area for nearly 20 years and had recently hatched two eaglets, anecdotal evidence which supports reporting that bald eagle populations are back on the rise.
"We have all been calling the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Pittsburgh each week, and all they will say is that it is under investigation — even though the person responsible has confessed to the crime," said Cherry Valley Lakeview Estates resident Linda Carnevali.
"This has triggered many emotions for several of us as we felt like [the eagles] were part of our lives for all these years," she continued. "We have taken it very personal and feel that the mission to bring this to justice is deserved and necessary."
The elder Thomas has been charged with violating the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act of 1940, which forbids those without a permit to "pursue, shoot at, poison, wound kill, capture ... or disturb" a bald or golden eagle. If convicted, he faces a year in prison and up to a $5,000 fine. He is currently out on bail.
Pittsburgh U.S. Attorney Eric G. Olshan told the New York Post that his "office remains committed to investigating and prosecuting environmental and wildlife offenses under federal law, including the unlawful killing of bald eagles — the United States' national bird since 1782."
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Sr. Editor, News
Cortney Weil is a senior editor for Blaze News.