FRUITLAND, Idaho -- The man accused of breaking in to Zoo Boise Saturday morning and killing a patas monkey has had his mug shot shown all over the country. Media outlets from Los Angeles to New York have reported the story, as outrage continues to grow.
KTVB can't interview 22-year-old Michael Watkins today because he is in jail custody. So we went to Fruitland in search of his friends and family.
At Apple Bin Cafe on the main drag in Fruitland, the lunch crowd is buzzing.
"How come he killed a monkey?" said a cafe customer.
"You just don't do that to animals," said another customer.
The man accused of killing a patas monkey at Zoo Boise over the weekend is from their town.
"I heard that he was from Fruitland," said one customer.
KTVB stopped at the cafe in hopes of finding Michael Watkins family. While we didn't find them, we ran in to Andrew Ketchu, who said he went to Fruitland High School with Watkins. They were both on the wrestling team.
"I saw his mug shot on Facebook and I was like, 'Oh wow,'" said Ketchu.
Ketchu said some of Watkins' friends and his family are defending him on Facebook.
"I don't know what made him want to do it, but he had broken into the zoo and gotten to the cage with the monkey. He wanted to take a picture with the monkey," said Ketchu.
Ketchu says Watkins' sister's Facebook page indicates her brother didn't break in to Zoo Boise with the intent of hurting a monkey. But when he got into their cage, the monkey became aggressive first, and Watkins fought back.
"What I'm assuming is he started just hitting the monkey, basically beating him to death," said Ketchu. "I did hear something about how he, they said he had stitches, whether it was on his arm or not, I'm not sure. But they did say he had a whole bunch of stitches on his arm."
KTVB asked Ketchu if it's possible Watkins was under the influence. He hadn't heard, but believes the whole thing may have started from a dare.