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Woman arrested after gunplay erupts at animal sanctuary

Jackson County sheriff's deputies arrested a woman late Tuesday on assault charges after she allegedly fired shots at a New Age teacher who has dedicated her life to protecting exotic animals.

Deputies were called to the Tiger Sanctuary in the 24000 block of Highway 140, Eagle Point, at around 8 p.m. Tuesday because two women were fighting and one of them had a gun, Capt. Joe Puckett said.

Deputies arrested Michelle Taylor, 43, on charges of third- and fourth-degree assault, unlawful use of a weapon, menacing and four counts of reckless endangerment. She was lodged in the Jackson County Jail, where she remained Wednesday night on &

36;50,000 bail after appearing in Jackson County Circuit Court Wednesday.

Puckett said Taylor quarreled with Penny Torres, 44, New Age guru who created a refuge for tigers and other wild animals in the forest outside Eagle Point.

The two women, long-time acquaintances, had fought Monday evening and Taylor fired four shots at Torres that night, witnesses told deputies. Other people who live in the cluster of homes at what is called the Tiger Sanctuary intervened and took the gun. Police weren't called that night, Puckett said.

Tuesday night the two women again clashed. Neighbors took the gun, called the sheriff's office and kept the two apart until deputies arrived.

Both altercations happened inside a home, which was damaged by the shots, but no one was hurt, Puckett said.