PETA seeks criminal probe after revealing steers shot in head at Warner Locker near Maysville

Shooting Investigation news graphic

PETA has obtained a U.S. Department of Agriculture report revealing a recent violation of law at Warner Locker outside Maysville, Missouri. In response, the group sent a letter this morning calling on DeKalb County Prosecuting Attorney Erik Tate to review the matter and, as appropriate, file criminal cruelty-to-animals charges against the facility and its manager responsible for the botched stunning of a steer as well as a similar incident last spring.

On December 7, the plant manager shot a steer in the head three times with a rifle, but the animal remained standing until another employee fired a fourth shot. On March 16, the manager shot a steer three times with a handgun before the animal was finally rendered unconscious.

“These disturbing reports show that animals experienced prolonged, agonizing deaths at Warner Locker,” says PETA Senior Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch. “PETA is calling for a criminal investigation on behalf of these steers and urging all compassionate members of the public to go vegan and help prevent more animals from suffering in slaughterhouses.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to eat”—opposes speciesism, which is a human-supremacist worldview. The group notes that cows, sheep, pigs, chickens, and other animals feel pain and fear and value their lives, just as humans do, and that the only way to help prevent them from suffering in slaughterhouses is not to eat them.

PETA’s letter to Tate follows.

January 14, 2021

The Honorable Erik Tate

DeKalb County Prosecuting Attorney

Via e-mail: [email protected] 

Dear Mr. Tate:

I hope this letter finds you well. I would like to request that your office (and the proper local law enforcement agency, as you deem appropriate) investigate and file suitable criminal charges against Warner Locker, Inc., and the man responsible for shooting two steers in the head multiple times on December 7 and March 16, 2020, at its slaughterhouse located at 340 Southeast Offut Rd. outside Maysville. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) documented the incidents in the attached reports, which state the following:

December 7, 2020: “The plant manager fired a .22 mag rifle in an attempt to stun a steer; however, the animal remained standing and holding its head upright. The plant manager attempted two more times with the same firearm; however, the animal continued to remain standing after each attempt. Another employee fired a fourth shot using the same firearm, rendering the animal immediately unconscious.”

March 16, 2020: “[A federal official] observed [the man referenced above] attempt to stun a large dairy cross steer using a 357-mag revolver. The first shot merely grazed across the right side of the animal’s skull, as [the animal] moved [his] head away. [The man] then fired a second shot dropping the animal, but [the animal] was still conscious as evidenced by blinking of the eyes and head still held upright. [The man] fired another round stunning the animal effectively.”

This conduct appears to violate V.A.M.S. § 578.012 (1)(3). Importantly, FSIS action does not preempt criminal liability under state law for slaughterhouse workers who perpetrate acts of cruelty to animals.

Please let us know what we might do to assist you. Thank you for your consideration and for the difficult work that you do.


Colin Henstock

Assistant Manager of Investigations