Annoyed groundskeeper shoots ducks in Delray Beach, police say

DELRAY BEACH, Fla. - It was, by any stretch, a fowl deed.

Two days before Thanksgiving, police say there was drunken duck hunt in Delray Beach. But they also say Scott Jensen, the 48-year-old maintenance supervisor charged with killing the birds with a high-powered pellet gun from atop a roof, had no intention of serving the ducks at the dinner table.

"He was growing tired of cleaning up the duck feces from the patio," detectives say Jensen told them, according to a Delray Beach Police report.

Jensen, who allegedly used an apartment complex storage room to practice shooting holes in paper targets and discarded appliances, now stands charged with animal cruelty.

The real shooting began on Nov. 19, just after 9 p.m., when two residents of the rental community noticed something out of the ordinary. The complex is in the 600 block of Audubon Boulevard, a street named after the famous naturalist who dedicated his life to cataloging birds.

There was a man on the roof, dressed in black, crouched in a tactical stance, slowly walking with a "sniper style" rifle in his hands.

The man then fired the gun four or five times toward the ducks around the lake. Concerned, residents called police.

"The area to which the defendant was shooting is traveled by residents," the report says.

Police arrived at the Delray Lake Apartments a short time later and began to search for a way up to the roof.

While searching for access, officers found a storage room and stepped inside. There, they found a rifle in the corner of the room, near a box, chair and empty beer cans littered on the floor.

Paper targets lined the southwest wall. Broken appliances in the room also appeared to have been used as targets, their steel cases riddled with holes.

Officers then found a way to the roof.

There they found Jensen, armed with what looked like a high-powered rifle, furnished with a long-range scope. Jensen was wearing a black shirt and black shorts, matching descriptions from witnesses.

Officers immediately arrested Jensen and collected the belongings he had with him on the roof: a .22-caliber "nitrogen propelled" pellet rifle with a scope, backpack, jacket, two flashlights and six bottles of Miller beer.

At the Delray Beach Police Department, detectives interviewed Jensen.

"The defendant confessed to shooting Muscovy ducks from the roof and showed no remorse in doing so," the report says.

As maintenance supervisor of Delray Lake Apartments, Jensen told detectives he killed the birds because he was tired of cleaning up after them.

Jensen then admitted he was on the roof the night before his arrest and shot at least three ducks. On Nov. 19, the night of his arrest, Jensen said he shot 10 ducks.

But detectives only discovered two deceased ducks near the lake. It is unknown what happened to the other ducks.

"The defendant," the report says, "who appeared intoxicated, stated that he would continue to shoot the ducks to rid the property of them."

Deputies booked Jensen in the Palm Beach County Jail on two charges of animal cruelty. He was released the next day. Arrest records show Jensen had never been arrested before allegedly killing the ducks.

While many consider Muscovy ducks a nuisance, the creatures are protected by a 2010 federal rule.

Muscovy ducks are considered non-natives to Florida and invasive, so residents are prohibited from picking up the birds and relocating them. Landowners or local governments can trap and destroy them, but they must do it in a "humane" way, following anti-cruelty laws.

It is unknown if the property manager of Delray Lake Apartments gave Jensen permission to kill the ducks. A company representative told the Sun Sentinel Tuesday she would not comment on the incident.

Specifically, Florida law defines animal cruelty as intentionally inflicting harm, torture or suffering.

Since the federal rule went into effect, duck handler Eunice Sivertsen, who runs a duck rescue facility in Margate called Duck Haven, said she has seen more and more incidents involving annoyed residents taking the lives of ducks into their own hands.

Many residents, Sivertsen said, have shot, run over or poisoned the birds.

"If his statement to law enforcement specifically says he 'shot' the ducks," said Diane Sauve, director of Palm Beach County Animal Care & Control, "then that in itself could mean that there was and could still be suffering if any of the ducks remain injured or if their death was preceded by prolonged pain."

Staff writer David Fleshler and researcher Barbara Hijek contributed to this report.

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