Lakeview restaurant owner arrested for shooting 'foaming' opossum to death said he acted in self-defense _lowres

Mark Schenck

A Lakeview restaurant owner who shot an opossum to death on Thursday says he was acting in self-defense as the feral animal charged him.

Mark Schenck was booked with illegal use of a weapon and cruelty to animals on Monday. The 68-year-old owner of the burger joint Lakeview Harbor in the 900 block of Harrison Avenue doesn’t dispute killing the opossum, but claims he feared for his life.

“We had a wild animal foaming at the mouth that was coming at us,” said Schenck. “I had to take care of it.”

Police responded to reports of shots fired near the restaurant just after midnight Thursday, according to an arrest warrant written by Detective Kristie Harper. A witness told police that when she was leaving the restaurant she saw its owner get out of the driver’s side of a black, two-door Lexus with a black handgun.

As she crossed Harrison Avenue on foot, the woman said, she saw Schenck walk along side of the restaurant to its rear.

Three shots sounded, and it was all over in less than a minute. Lakeview Crime Prevention Sergeant Rene’ Benjamin arrived on scene some time later to find three spent shell casings and a dead opossum.

The witness positively identified Schenck as the man who was walking with the gun on Sunday, according to the warrant. His bond was set at $5,000 on Tuesday and he was quickly released.

Although the witness’s story made the shooting sound pre-meditated, the restaurant owner said he frequently walks between the restaurant and his nearby home. The fatal shots, he maintained, were “simple self-defense.”

Schenck described the opossums as a “nuisance” that frequently menaced his employees and “spread trash all over the neighborhood.” He also said that he feared a bite from the opossum would exacerbate his health conditions.