Residents began receiving an alert from family and friends last week via e-mails, Facebook and other social media that caused an immediate uproar in the community.
Sent by the non-profit organization, “Voices for Pets,” a watchdog group that advocates against animal cruelty, the flyer advises residents that a felon convicted of torturing and killing animals is scheduled for release from prison on May 19 and will to be sent to live in Canyon Lake.
The alert provides a detailed description of the events leading to the arrest and conviction of Timothy Aire Kooyman in 2008. These include stealing three cats and a kitten in April 2008, taking them to his motel room in Corona, and performing violent acts that led to their deaths. In May 2008, he repeated these acts against three more cats seized in Alta Loma and Rancho Cucamonga. He set fire to one of cats, which caused a brush fire in the area.
A misleading statement on the alert, “Attention: Upland residents who have pets and small children” led some who read it to believe Kooyman had a history of injuring children; however, police records and a background check from Riverside Sheriff Lt. Bennett indicates there is no record of abuse of humans.
The alert was shared on Facebook with a post stating, “This disgusting excuse of a human is going to be released to our community in a couple of weeks. We need to be aware and on guard of our pets and children. At one point, animals are no longer going to be enough for this guy.” Subsequent posts reflected similar sentiments.
During a phone interview with The Friday Flyer, Kooyman’s mother, Paulette, seemed shocked to find out that a flyer about her son was being circulated throughout the community and responded, “I didn’t know, I didn’t know there was a flyer, oh my gosh, this is why we are getting numerous disturbing phone calls!”
Paulette shared that the release information date was correct, and that Timothy would be released in the Ontario area due to the fact that it was the jurisdiction in which his last residence was listed.
“We are going to request a transfer for Timothy to come to the Riverside area, and, yes, there is a possibility that Timothy might reside with us briefly while we locate a facility that will be able to monitor him and give him proper care,” says Paulette.
She said she understood people's concerns and their disgust with what Timothy did to cats four years ago, but stated, “Doesn’t everyone deserve a second chance?”
She further explained that years ago, Timothy was homeless and suffered from a mental disorder that had never been diagnosed. People who he thought were his friends let him down and he slipped into a place in his life that he was not happy with.
“Timothy has been in programs that have helped him with his mental health issues; he has attended substance abuse programs and received proper medication for his illness,” says Paulette.
Paulette and her husband are currently involved in prison ministries. She says they are working on arrangements for Kooyman to be placed in a facility that will help with his treatment and monitor him. They hope to finalize the arrangements prior to his being released, but if it is not finalized, there is a possibility he will briefly stay with them in their home until he can be placed.
Understanding the seriousness of Kooyman’s illness, the family will be monitoring his medications until he is placed.
After the issue of Kooyman's potential release in Canyon Lake was brought up at the Public Safety Committee meeting on April 30, Lt. Paul Bennett said, “We do not know exactly what is happening with him at this time; it is in the parole board's hands. In the event that Timothy Kooyman is paroled to Canyon Lake. we will be monitoring his behavior and take an active role in enforcing all of the conditions of his parole."
Lt. Bennett says the Sheriff's Department is not required to issue a press release in cases like this involving convicted felons being released to a community; it is only required to issue press releases for registered sex offenders. Pressed by Emergency Preparedness Director Nancy Carroll, who asked, “You are not required, but are you allowed to,” Lt. Bennett and Chief Hill responded that it is not usually the policy of the department to issue a press release in cases like the one mentioned.
With that understanding, The Friday Flyer is in touch with Kooyman's family and his parole officer and will attempt to keep the community informed.