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‘He can’t even run away.’ Beloved 70-year-old tortoise impaled at California preschool

An intruder stabbed Michelangelo, a 70-year-old tortoise, with a wooden post Saturday at a San Jose, California, preschool. The tortoise is recovering.

An intruder stabbed Michelangelo, a 70-year-old tortoise, with a wooden post Saturday at a San Jose, California, preschool. The tortoise is recovering.

Screengrab from KNTV video

At 70 years old, Michelangelo is “just a happy little tortoise” who dwells at a California preschool, teacher Brooke Lariz told KPIX. Though, he’s not really so little at 65 pounds.

“The kids love him,” Lariz said, according to the station. “They get so excited … He loves to be around the kids.”

On Saturday, Tammy Lariz found Michelangelo impaled through his shell by a wooden garden gate post, The Mercury News reported.

“I thought he was dead for sure,” Tammy Lariz, administrator of Play ‘n’ Learn Preschool in San Jose, told the publication. “You just had to be absolutely sick to want to go over there and stab a tortoise like that. He’s super-friendly.”

Michelangelo is now recovering at a San Jose veterinary hospital.

“This is a brutal attack on something that can’t defend himself,” said Dr. Tal Solomon of Archvet Animal Hospital, KPIX reported. “He can’t even run away.”

San Jose police, responding to reports of a man destroying property at the preschool, arrested George Robles, 40, of San Jose on suspicion of vandalism and animal abuse, KNTV reported.

“Abuse of an innocent animal is intolerable and must be addressed,” said acting Chief of Police Dave Tindall in a statement, according to the station.

Robles also was held for a 72-hour emergency mental health evaluation, KNTV reported. Tindall credited the department’s de-escalation training for his safe arrest.

The rampage also caused about $1,800 in damage to the preschool campus, KPIX reported.

The preschool acquired the 65-pound, 2-foot-long African tortoise through a rescue program about four years ago, The Mercury News reported. The children named him after a character in the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” franchise.

“He’ll recover just fine,” Solomon said, according to the publication. “He won’t be his beautiful self, but he’ll be walking.”

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Don Sweeney has been a newspaper reporter and editor in California for more than 25 years. He has been a real-time reporter based at The Sacramento Bee since 2016.

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