Man who shot Lady Gaga’s dog walker gets 21 years in prison

LOS ANGELES — The man who last year shot and wounded Lady Gaga’s dog walker and stole her French bulldogs entered a plea deal and was sentenced to 21 years in prison on Monday, officials said.

According to authorities, the connection with Lady Gaga was a coincidence. The motive was the value of the French bulldogs, a breed that can run into the thousands of dollars, and detectives don’t believe the thieves knew the dogs belonged to the musician.

James Howard Jackson, one of three men and two accomplices who took part in the violent robbery and its aftermath, pleaded not one count of attempted murder, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. It was not immediately clear which lawyer Howard was representing on Monday.

Jackson and two others drove through Hollywood, the city of West Hollywood and the San Fernando Valley on Feb. 24, 2021, “looking for French bulldogs,” prosecutors previously said. They found Lady Gaga’s dog walker, Ryan Fischer, with the pop star’s three pets.

Jackson shot Fischer during the robbery near the famous Sunset Boulevard, taking two of the dogs. A nearby doorbell camera caught the dog walker yelling, “Oh my God! I’ve been shot!” and “Help me!” and “I’m bleeding from my chest!”

Fischer later called the violence a “very close call to death” in social media posts.

The dogs, named Koji and Gustav, were returned several days later by Jennifer McBride, who was also charged with the crime.

At the time, the pop star had offered a $500,000 reward — “no questions asked” — to be reunited with the dogs.

Jackson also admitted to grievous bodily harm and an earlier strike, the district attorney’s office said Monday. The public prosecutor’s office did not immediately say what the earlier strike was.

“The plea deal holds Mr. Jackson accountable for committing a cold-hearted act of violence and provides justice for our victim,” the agency said in a statement. Howard was charged with attempted murder, conspiracy to commit robbery and assault with a semi-automatic firearm.

Jackson was accidentally released from prison earlier this year for a clerical error. He was recaptured nearly five months later.

Another accomplice, Harold White, pleaded no contest Monday against a count of ex-con in possession of a gun. White, who was dating McBride at the time, will be sentenced next year. McBride’s case is ongoing.

The couple had reportedly tried to help White’s son, Jaylin White, avoid arrest in the aftermath of the shooting.

Jaylin White and Lafayette Whaley pleaded no theft earlier this year.

Whaley drove Jackson and the younger White around last year as they searched for the expensive dogs. Jackson and White jumped out and attacked Fischer, prosecutors previously said. They beat and choked the dog walker, and Jackson pulled out a semiautomatic pistol and fired, hitting Fischer once before the trio fled.

Lady Gaga and Fischer’s representatives did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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Associated Press writer Andrew Dalton contributed.

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