Does this father’s past have anything to do with his kid getting in the gorilla pen? Is it a reflection of his parenting? Check this out.
These are the parents of the four-year-old boy whose 15-feet fall into the gorilla exhibit moat in Cincinnati Zoo resulted in the death of 17-year-old silverback gorilla, Harambe.
Seen here for the first time is mother Michelle Gregg, 32, who has four children by father Deonne Dickerson, 36, a man who, Daily Mail Online can disclose, has a lengthy criminal history.
Criminal filings against Dickerson stretch over a decade and include burglary, firearms offences, drug trafficking, criminal trespass, disorderly conduct and kidnap.
In 2006 he was sentenced to one year behind bars for a drug trafficking conviction.
But in numerous pictures posted on Dickerson’s Facebook site in recent years he appears to have turned his life around to become the proud father of four.
Indeed, the majority of his postings to the social media site are updates of his children and his working life.
In others pictures he has uploaded his friends congratulate him and Michelle on the birth of their fourth child last January.
Cleveland based Dickerson is from Atlanta, Georgia and studied at Cuyahoga Community College, Ohio and now works as a sorter at a Cincinnati industrial equipment supplier.
Gregg is currently the administrator at a Cincinnati pre-school.
She has been the subject of sharp criticism following the incident that saw zoo staff shoot dead Harambe who, according to new video footage, may have been protecting rather than threatening the child after he crawled through a barrier and fell into the gorilla’s enclosure.
Many social media commenters have criticized her and Dickerson and said they should be held accountable.
A Cincinnati police spokesman said no charges were being considered. A spokeswoman for the family said on Monday they had no plans to comment.
‘I do think there’s a degree of responsibility they have to be held to,’ said Kate Villanueva, a mother of two children from Erlanger, Kentucky, who started the ‘Justice for Harambe’ page and attended a vigil on Monday at Cincinnati Zoo for Harambe.
‘You have to be watching your children at all times.’
More outraged animal lovers took to social media declaring the western lowland gorilla’s life was unnecessarily taken, and more than 290,000 have already joined ‘Justice for Harambe’ which place the blame squarely on the boy’s parents.
Ian Redmond, the chairman of the Gorilla Organization, told CNN : ‘When gorilla or other apes have things they shouldn’t have, keepers will negotiate with them, bring food, their favorite treats, pineapple or some kind of fruit that they don’t know and negotiate with them.’
Primatologist Julia Gallucci said: ‘The gorilla enclosure should have been surrounded by a secondary barrier between the humans and the animals to prevent exactly this type of incident.’
Earlier on Sunday, police said prosecutors could choose to indict the parents, but Cincinnati Police Lieutenant Stephen Saunders later said he was not aware of any intention to do so.
Soon after the incident, Michelle Gregg, the mother of the boy, posted a message on Facebook saying: ‘I want to thank everyone for their thoughts and prayers today. What started off as a wonderful day turned into a scary one.
‘For those of you that have seen the news or been on social media that was my son that fell in the gorilla exhibit at the zoo. God protected my child until the authorities were able to get to him.
‘My son is safe and was able to walk away with a concussion and a few scrapes… no broken bones or internal injuries.
‘As a society we are quick to judge how a parent could take their eyes off of their child and if anyone knows me I keep a tight watch on my kids. Accidents happen but I am thankful that the right people were in the right place today.’
The family also released a statement on Sunday saying they had taken their boy home from the hospital.
It read: ‘We are so thankful to the Lord that our child is safe. He is home and doing just fine. We extend our heartfelt thanks for the quick action by the Cincinnati Zoo staff.
‘We know that this was a very difficult decision for them, and that they are grieving the loss of their gorilla. We hope that you will respect our privacy at this time.’
Deidre Lykins was also at the zoo when she saw the boy drop into the enclosure.
She described how Ms Gregg was calling out for her son and had just been next to him when he disappeared.
Then she had to stop her husband from going in to try and rescue him.
But she insists Ms Gregg is not at fault, and wrote on Facebook: ‘This mother was not negligent and the zoo did an awesome job handling the situation!
‘This was an open exhibit! Which means the only thing separating you from the gorillas, is a 15 ish foot drop and a moat and some bushes!’
This comes as new video footage of Harambe the gorilla suggests he was trying to protect a four-year-old boy who fell into the zoo enclosure just minutes before the 400-pound animal was fatally shot.