Lady Gaga’s Dog-Walker Shooting Suspect Was Mistakenly Freed

Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

Update, April 8, at 1:20 p.m.: A man who allegedly shot Lady Gaga’s dog walker was released from jail on Wednesday, April 6, due to a “clerical error.” The 2021 incident left Ryan Fischer in a hospital, getting portions of his lung removed. James Howard Jackson, 19, was one of five suspects arrested last April. A statement from the L.A. Sheriff’s Department said that “the investigation is continuing and the LASD Major Crimes Bureau is actively working to get Mr. Jackson back in custody.” It also noted that Jackson’s release was “inadvertent.”

Original story follows.

A year later, we’re still learning new details about the armed robbery in which two of Lady Gaga’s French bulldogs were stolen and eventually returned. Rolling Stone obtained a recently unsealed testimony from dog walker Ryan Fischer, who was shot in the chest during the incident. Fischer reportedly told a grand jury in October 2021 that he was “confused at first” when the suspects now charged with his attempted murder pulled a gun on him. “They pointed down to the dogs, that they wanted the dogs, and I said, ‘No,’” he testified. “And I started to scream for help and tried to fight back.” Fischer described then being thrown into a concrete embankment and choked by the man with the gun. He said that he used a bottle of Champagne he’d bought at a nearby store to hit the man and break free. As Fischer reached for one of Lady Gaga’s dogs, he was shot in the chest. “I immediately tried to call for help but realized I was bleeding out of my lung and that I was losing more and more air quickly,” Fischer testified.

The assailants left the scene with Gustav and Koji, two of Lady Gaga’s three dogs. Due to hand signals from Fischer, the third dog, Asia, reportedly remained hidden during the attack. After the shooting, Asia returned to Fischer’s side as he gasped for air and “tried to project as much as possible in a calm manner to get people out of their houses to ask for help,” according to his testimony. After having surgery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, the dog walker said he spent a week at the hospital under the fake name Randy Goodwin due to intense media coverage of the incident. He said he returned to the hospital just two days after being released because his “lung had collapsed again.” Ultimately, he decided to have another surgery. “I consented to part of my lung being removed. The top third of my lung being removed as well as the bottom portion as well,” he said.

In an opening statement to the grand jurors, Deputy District Attorney Michele Hanisee said that Lady Gaga would not testify because she was not present during the shooting. “There is no evidence that you will hear that suggests the suspects knew these dogs belonged to Lady Gaga,” she said. “All the evidence indicates that they were targeting French bulldogs due to the value of the breed and the desire to own that particular breed.” During his examination, Fischer reportedly never referred to Lady Gaga directly by name. When asked if he was “a longtime friend of the pop singer Lady Gaga,” he simply replied, “I am.”

Three suspects — alleged shooter James Jackson and his two alleged accomplices, Jaylin White and Lafayette Whaley — have been charged with the attempted murder of Fischer. They were reportedly identified through surveillance-video footage, cellular records, and text messages that show them traveling together. White’s father, Harold White, also admitted to investigators that “there were some dogs in my backyard at some point,” and a .45 caliber handgun was found in Harold White’s bedroom last April. He has pleaded not guilty to being an accessory after the fact, as has Jennifer McBride, the friend of his who eventually returned the dogs. A hearing for the three main defendants has been set for April 5.

Lady Gaga’s Dog-Walker Shooting Suspect Was Mistakenly Freed