Everybody who lives near DMX in the Cave Creek area knew when the rap musician and actor was visiting from the East Coast.
Neighbors said it was hard to miss the flashy cars with booming stereos, the all-terrain vehicles roaring through the desert foothills and prevalence of guns, although he seemed nice.
But those residents were taken aback to learn mistreated and dead dogs were found at his home by Maricopa County sheriff’s deputies on Friday morning.
DMX, whose real name is Earl Simmons, was not at the home when the search took place.
Twelve malnourished pit bulls were taken away for treatment, and sheriff’s investigators dug up the remains of three dogs — including one that appeared to have been burned.
Outside the home, located on a county island just west of Cave Creek, there were three large metal cages and a plastic kennel. However, Sheriff Joe Arpaio added there was no evidence Simmons was involved in dogfighting.
DMX is a fan of dogs, to the point of having a tattoo on his back reading “Pit Bull.”
Guns and drug paraphernalia also were discovered at 2708 E. Carlise Road by deputies who came to check on the dogs after receiving a tip.
Although no arrest warrant has been issued for the 36-year-old Simmons, Arpaio did not rule out that one may be forthcoming.
“We know there’s animal cruelty here,” Arpaio said. “We have to see where that takes us.”
Simmons and the law are well acquainted, beginning with a drug possession charge in 1994. He also has been arrested on suspicion of impersonating a federal agent and is currently wanted on a New York warrant for failing to appear in court on two driving offenses.
Most recently, a judge ordered Simmons to pay $242,000 to a company that sued him after he failed to promote a line of canine clothing.
Simmons’ lawyer, Murray Richman, told The Associated Press that Simmons hasn’t been in Arizona for at least two months and was “extremely disturbed” to hear the animals weren’t being cared for properly.
“We had a caretaker that wasn’t taking care, that’s what happened,” Richman said. “He loves dogs — he loves these animals. Those dogs are practically his family.”
Authorities received a tip last week about Simmons’ dogs, Arpaio said, and deputies then contacted his attorney to warn him to take care of the dogs. But when investigators arrived Friday they found the dogs had not been cared for, prompting them to seek a search warrant.
Richman told the AP he knew nothing of the earlier warning. But the news report also quoted sheriff’s officials as saying they had been in contact with another attorney who works for Simmons.
As investigators removed rifles and ammunition clips from the home, Alex Covarrubias watched. The north Phoenix man had been riding his quad nearby when he met Simmons and a half-dozen friends doing the same.
“They always had guns on them,” Covarrubias said. “But they were nice guys to me.”
Neighbor Christi Val noticed Simmons wore one pistol on his hip and a second in a shoulder holster.
“He’s rowdy, but when he’s around here he’s quiet,” Val said. “He doesn’t mess with anybody and minds his own business."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.